What Have I Been Up To?

NJ in LA, Natalie James

Motivation and inspiration to blog again has come over me. So what have I been up to all year? Here’s a recap of some highlights, adventures, and all things NJ. I’m trying to put together a couple more trips before the end the year. If you want me to visit your country, hotel, wherever – holler at ya girl.

+ In January I started volunteering at the Downtown Women’s Center, located in Downtown L.A.’s Skid Row. I’m there every week helping women build résumés, look for jobs, open up email accounts, and facilitating typing classes.

+ I finally made it to SXSW in Austin, Texas. There was an app (WannaGo) I was consulting for who set me up with a mostly-expenses paid trip. There might just be some content I have to share. Annnnnd Pusha T was so good!

+ The photo above is from a trip to Santiago, Chile that I took this Spring – which happened to be their winter, because hello equator! I took a journey on a bus into the snow covered Andes, where I hiked with some beautiful dogs. It was freezing and I could barely see AND I LOVED IT. I chose this photo because it was one of the happiest moments I had ever experienced in my life. Me + Dog + Snow + Andes = perfection. I was so excited to be alive. I took this journey solo but not once felt alone, it was an experience I’ll never forget! I have Chile posts lined up for y’all.

+ I finally went to Mexico City, albeit for 14 hours, but they were some of the best 14 hours of my life. I decided to take a long lay over on my way to Chile. This was my first time there, but I memorized from reading tips on the internet exactly how to walk out of the airport, get on the Metro, and straight to the Zocalo. I cannot wait to share with you all that I saw and ate! I walked the entire 14 hours alone – again, what an amazing experience. This photo will give you a glimpse of the greatness.

+ In September I made my first trip to Quintana Roo and the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. My family and I stayed in Playa del Carmen and spent time in Tulum, Valladolid & Cozumel. This was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I climbed Cobá, the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan, among many other things. Hands down one of the best trips of my life! I cannot wait to write all about it. Just look at this road side chicken I ate!

+ Back in May, something REALLY EXCITING HAPPENED! I woke up to an email and DM from Instagram saying that they had chose me to be a suggested user. I was unbelievably psyched that out of millions of accounts they chose mine. They said they loved my photos and how I interacted with my community; I felt unbelievably honored. Tears of joy fell from my eyes as I read their words, all my hard work was being recognized and it felt great. I could practically taste satisfaction and let me tell you, the flavor was delicious. This lasted for about 2 weeks, and during that time my following jumped to over 50,000 followers. I’m currently at 49,555 but I know soon enough I’ll be at 100,00. Then a million. Why not? You can follow me here.

+ I managed to write a few things this year for Complex Magazine, First We Feast (James Beard Award Winner for best food blog), Foodbeast, & SBE’s new lifestyle blog. Check them out:
- 10 Essential L.A. Burgers, First We Feast
- A Guide to Eating Vegan & Vegetarian, Complex Magazine
- A Guide to Fried Chicken in Los Angeles, Complex Magazine
- L.A. Oyster Guide, SBE
- A Visit to Hyde Cocktails + Kitchen, SBE
- How to Eat Your Way Through L.A.’s Little Tokyo, SBE
- L.A.’s Third Wave Coffee Movement, SBE
- Tapatio Spiked Sorbet at CoolHaus, Foodbeast

+ & big thanks to Buzzfeed for naming be one of the best Instgram accounts in L.A. and Domaine Home for naming me one of the “Top Foodies to Follow.”

That is just a glimpse of some things that happened in my life this year. As I was writing this, I couldn’t help but be mad at myself for any of the funks I had experienced along the way. I am truly too blessed to be stressed, and even though I made very little money this year, I have managed to experience more than I ever have! Deciding to only do things I want to do, surrounding myself with people who have my back no matter what, spending as much time with my amazing parents, and staying on top of my community work – this has made it one incredible year! Feeling grateful for everything.

Back from Sabbatical

Welcome back dear reader. I am happy to announce that I am back from an unannounced blogging sabbatical. Thank you for your patience during these past 2 months, your comments, emails, and text messages asking where the heck I was have been appreciated. I’ve been going strong on Twitter and Instagram, which I hope you’re following, but here’s an update on what I’ve been up to since we last spoke.

It’s all been about my career and love life in 2012. I finally landed the kind of job I’d been working so hard for, with an amazing group of women, at a design and brand consulting studio in Atwater Village. I have continued to review restaurants, hotels, and other businesses for Citysearch L.A. in addition to being named their Social Media Manager. Another gig I grabbed during this off time was writing a chef profile for a popular hotel who is flirting with the idea of launching a magazine. Hoping that goes to print! The last of my jobs is being brought on as a lifestyle blogger for Miss KL (part of Karmaloop), so keep your eyes out for some good pieces!

As for my love life, my Twitter feed explains most of that. Famous to non-famous, the men of this year are appreciated. Thanks for getting me right.

This year I have taken my own advice and it’s all falling into place. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. Trust. Now on with the program.

Back to Blogging

Trill

You are reading this, aren’t you? I am back to blogging after what turned out to be almost a month-long hiatus. My friend Sara insinuated last week that I was too busy living life to blog, which we both had a good laugh over. I’m not actually sure who is reading this anymore but I’ve had more hits than ever so that is a good thing. Why don’t you say hi in the comments just to give me a head’s up?

Let me break some things down, Livejournal style. 2012 has been my motherfucking year. Dropped my dude after 8 years (more on that later) and seriously cannot believe how amazing single life has been – when I say that, one of the things I am talking about are all the creative freedoms that have seem to entered my life with the release of something big . The past 6 months has inspired me to return to zines after almost 10 years with the upcoming 90 Days to Becoming a Player: A Girl’s Guide. Most of my time has been spent dancing, juggling dudes, working out, hanging with girlfriends, and looking for the perfect job. I have removed almost all the ridiculous stress creators in my life and the permanent smile I’ve been sporting is worth everything to me. Trust me when I say you wanna hang with NJ.

I really love my friends & I love you dear readers, even the haters.  The name of this here blog is changing this week, pretty sure. Done.

Big Changes 2012

Nothing beats the classic Mac Photo Booth screen cap, am I right? A single girl has to take matters into her own hands. Last week the blog was quiet but that only means one thing, big changes up in here! I already claimed 2012 as my year and the universe keeps reinforcing this idea, so if I go on and on about ballerz, playerz, & every other word that ends with a “z”, I hope you feel me. I am riding a high of happiness and I hope you’ll join me in my adventures. It is about to get really good!

New hair? Bam! Septum ring? Bam! Renaming this here blog? B A M ! To be continued…

 

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

CAFAM
I am so happy that 2011 is over because I was so ready for 2012 to begin. A new year always feels like a new start and though I make resolutions all the time, I especially love making them when I feel fresh and renewed. In 2011 my boyfriend and I departed ways after 8 years, one of my best friends “broke up” with me over an email (seriously), and I faced the ups/downs of working in the world of freelance. Despite those hardships, looking back on the year I say goodbye with a thankful heart because I have a wonderful family, true friends, a roof over my head and food in my belly. In the end, this is all that I need.

Last year marked many adventures in travel, delicious meals, and new friendships. I know this new year will only bring me more of the things I love. I have never felt so free which means I plan to use my time wisely! Here are some of my favorite photos throughout 2011.

Homegrown Tomatoes

Chico

Atlanta Oysters

Atlanta Aquarium

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo Paletas

La Paz

Ojai

Ojai

Supply Room, Santa Barbara

Agua Frescas

Native Foods

Succulent Workshop

Dim Sum Duh

Dumplings

Pide

My First Hanukkah

My First HanukkahDid you know I was Jewish? Neither did I until 3 weeks ago when I uncovered my Jewish lineage. Since then I have been doing everything possible to find out how this became a Mormon coverup only two generations ago. I am sure you are dying to know how I discovered this amazingness so here’s the breakdown. Recently the power was out in the neighborhood due to those crazy L.A. winds. I joined my parents for dinner at one of the only places with electricity and got started on the topic of ethnicity with my Dad, as I have always been convinced he was more than just a white guy from Utah. He talked about his family, their names, etc. but it was still all the same things I had heard before, that is until he physically wrote down his family tree.

I stared down at his chart of names and Maud Gressman immediately jumped out at me! My eyes bulged out of my skull and I shook my Dad, asking him to say that name. He read it and said “Grisham” to which I exclaimed loudly “No!” All these years my Dad has been pronouncing his Grandmother’s name incorrectly but I would soon discover that was just the tip of the iceberg. Upon my research I discovered Maud’s parents, Joseph Gressman and Laura Kessler, did not die in a car accident as their children were told. I have not figured out the story yet, but all 10 of their children were adopted by Mormon families in Utah; therein lies the conspiracy to coverup our Jewish heritage. Through research I have discovered Jewish ancestors with amazing names like Asher, Ephileader, Phebe and Essie. This is a pretty huge story so I am just sharing a bit for now but I must uncover the rest! If you have any Jewish ancestry tips, please let me know.

The photo above is a bracelet my Mother gave to me just now in celebration of my first Hanukkah. She has been extremely supportive of my quest and now I can officially call myself a Mexi-Jew.

My First Hanukkah

My First HanukkahDid you know I was Jewish? Neither did I until 3 weeks ago when I uncovered my Jewish lineage. Since then I have been doing everything possible to find out how this became a Mormon coverup only two generations ago. I am sure you are dying to know how I discovered this amazingness so here’s the breakdown. Recently the power was out in the neighborhood due to those crazy L.A. winds. I joined my parents for dinner at one of the only places with electricity and got started on the topic of ethnicity with my Dad, as I have always been convinced he was more than just a white guy from Utah. He talked about his family, their names, etc. but it was still all the same things I had heard before, that is until he physically wrote down his family tree.

I stared down at his chart of names and Maud Gressman immediately jumped out at me! My eyes bulged out of my skull and I shook my Dad, asking him to say that name. He read it and said “Grisham” to which I exclaimed loudly “No!” All these years my Dad has been pronouncing his Grandmother’s name incorrectly but I would soon discover that was just the tip of the iceberg. Upon my research I discovered Maud’s parents, Joseph Gressman and Laura Kessler, did not die in a car accident as their children were told. I have not figured out the story yet, but all 10 of their children were adopted by Mormon families in Utah; therein lies the conspiracy to coverup our Jewish heritage. Through research I have discovered Jewish ancestors with amazing names like Asher, Ephileader, Phebe and Essie. This is a pretty huge story so I am just sharing a bit for now but I must uncover the rest! If you have any Jewish ancestry tips, please let me know.

The photo above is a bracelet my Mother gave to me just now in celebration of my first Hanukkah. She has been extremely supportive of my quest and now I can officially call myself a Mexi-Jew.

Catching Up

First things first, the winners of the jewelry giveaway are Jenna Fain and Rachel Chung. Congrats ladies!  A big thanks to random.org for making it easy. For those of you interested in the pieces created by Stefani Greenwood, Gilda Davidian and myself, you can buy them online at the Edition Of 24 online shop.  Thank you to everyone who entered, I truly appreciate your support and enthusiasm.

Secondly, as you may have noticed, Fashion Intel was quiet last week but I can guarantee you exciting things to come.  Something I have wanted to share is that I am now contributing food writer for Refinery 29 Los Angeles.  You can read my most recent article, L.A.’s Most Mouth-Watering Cheap Eats, to find out about my favorite spots in L.A. that I promise will satisfy your taste buds and not break the bank.

Lastly, I just want to say last week was a whirlwind of fun.  From Tina Fey’s book signing at Club Nokia to getting down with Prince at The Forum, I am a bit pooped now but it was all worth it.  In between that I managed to chop off most of my hair (a total of now 14 inches gone) and secure a new client.  Now I’m packing for Atlanta and looking forward to sharing with you that adventure.

Dog v Raccoon

There is a reason I haven’t blogged for the past 6 days and that is my dog Cha Cha was nearly killed by a raccoon.  I have been by her side since the attack and have not had the chance to share anything new here on Fashion Intel.  Thank you for all your kind words and positive vibes via twitter and facebook – it really means a lot to me.

Cha Cha is on the mend, and at 13 years old she still has so much spark.  Before we all start damning the raccoon, I have to say that I’m absolutely sure my sweet little dog attacked first, because she has a history of fighting (killing) animals (that aren’t dogs).  What can you say except hey, she’s an animal.  Thankfully I got my dog to the hospital before she bled to death and she’s now resting quietly here in my bedroom.  Her checkup and draining tube removal at the veterinarian went well yesterday and things are starting to get back to normal over here.

This really shook me up and I’m really going to stop taking things/people/pets for granted.

Hello

I wanted to start this Monday morning with a photo of the vanilla latte I love over at Roaster Family Coffee (link) in Alhambra.  RFC is a chain of Taiwanese coffee shops with two locations in the states, both in the San Gabriel Valley, Arcadia and Alhambra.  I appreciate that their beans are Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.  Did you know 80% of all Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is exported to Japan? Moving on…  I never understood the appeal of working on my computer in cafe, that is until I actually tried it.  No distractions, just work.

This looks to be a promising week.  I should have a couple of announcements and am looking forward to the continued unnamed necklace project with A Collection Of.  Thank you again for your continued readership and amazing support!  I love seeing this blog community grow.

Which local spot(s) do you like to get coffee?