Giffith Impacted LA’s Greatness….

losangeles_011pThis past weekend I was in Los Angeles for a friend’s graduation, and I got a chance to explore a different side of the city. Having grown up just south of LA, I avoided most of the tourist areas and somewhat unknowingly wrote them off. Griffith Park was one that I highly recommend stopping by if you’re ever in LA and want to take a quick hike!

Why Was There So Much Open Land Available? Griffith Observatory is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park just above Los Feliz neighborhood. The Land was previously part of the Spanish settlement known as Rancho Los Feliz; the land stayed within the Feliz family until Griffith (a wealthy mining speculator) purchased what remained in 1882. H03

Who is Griffith? (aka “Colonel Griffith”) Griffith J Griffith was an English journalist and mining advisor who made his fortune in Mexican silver mines and subsequently Southern California real estate.

Which Came First The Observatory or The Park? The park. After traveling throughout Europe Griffith discovered that every major city had a great park. Returning home to Los Angeles he decided Los Angeles needed to be a great city therefore it needed a “Great Public Park”. On December 16, 1896 Griffith donated 3,015 acres of Rancho Los Feliz to the City of Los Angeles.

Where Did The Observatory Idea Come From? Griffith had the Astronomical Section of the California Academy of Science to thank for his exposure to new research established at Mount Washington in 1904. Griffith believed that an individual gained an enlightened perspective when looking at the skies. Therefore on December 12,1912 Griffith focused on making science more accessible to the public, and he offered the City of Los Angeles $100,000 for an observatory to build on the top of Mount Hollywood. Sadly the construction of the exhibit hall, observatory, and planetarium, which Griffith donated, was constantly delayed. Griffith passed away in 1919 before construction was completed in Spring of 1930. However, formal opening was delayed when devastating 6.4 earthquake occurred in Long Beach in March of 1933 ($50 million’s in damage). This caused architects to abandon the planned terra cotta exterior in favor of strengthening and thickening the buildings concrete walls. On May 14, 1934, the Griffith Observatory finally opened.

What Does Griffith Park Have to Offer? Besides from the free admission to the Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park has some of the best hikes within Los Angeles. The park itself has multiple fire roads that are used as hiking trails.

bronson-canyon-caveTrail: Bronson Canyon

  • Distance: > 1 Mile
  • Special Feature: “To the Bat Cave!”
  • Getting There: 
  • From Franklin Ave. in Hollywood
  • Go north on Canyon Dr. until the road ends, at the “Camp Hollywood land” parking lot (PARK HERE)
  • Cross the small, red concrete bridge on the right (east) side of the road.
  • Walk around the vehicle barrier, keep left
  • Follow the unpaved road for the short walk into Bronson Canyon.

Griffith-Park-ObservatoryTrail: Griffith Observatory West Trail Loop

  • Distance:  < 2.5 Miles
  • Special Feature: Views from Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign, and Panoramic views of LA Basin
  • Getting There: 
    • The hike starts at the Fern Dell Picnic Area off of Los Feliz Blvd (PARK HERE)
    • You can pick up the trail near the creek past the restrooms.
    • Stay to the right and head uphill toward the Griffith Observatory

Without Rickey There Would Be No #42

JackieRobinsonDayIn light of last weeks events (April 15th – Jackie Robinson Day), I thought it would be appropriate to share my recent takeaways after having watched 42. The film focused extensively on this Branch Rickey fella in addition to Jackie Robinson the main character. Branch Rickey was an innovative Major League Baseball executive who was made famous for signing the first African-American player Jackie Robinson. But that was not the only thing he introduced to MLB Rickey signed the first Afro-Hispanic superstar Roberto Clemente , created the framework for the modern minor league farm system, lead major league baseball expansion and introduce the use of training equipment.

Career Breakdown:

Branch Rickey was not your typical MLB executive; the film 42 depicted  him quite well because he was extremely hands on.  His personal exposure and experience to the MLB was unique because Ricky played, managed, led and direct MLB. He had played MLB for St. Louis Browns (1905 -1906) and New York (1907) Highlanders. Once his baseball playing career came to an end, Rickey wanted to focus on changing the administrative issues he observed as a player. So Rickey attended the University of Michigan  for college with a focus in administration. He returned to MLB as a manager of the Browns (1913) and then later went on to lead the Cardinals to the world series. But within his time  at the Cardinals(1919-1945),  Rickey managed to lay down the groundwork for the beginning of “the farm” by investing in several minor league rosters. He revolutionized the baseball by introducing new training tools during spring training camps. These new training tools where batting cages, pitching machines, batting helmets, and statistical analysis of player performance. All of which are now an MLB standard? In 1943 Ricky,  realized that there was not that many players “qualified” to players in the MLB league. What Rickey was referring to the fact that only White men could play the sport, so Rickey began the search for the “Right Man” (Referring to first colored man). In 1945, Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to a minor league contract, and that October Rickey announced Robinson would join Montreal Royals (Dodgers International League). Rickey fought tooth and nail to have Jackie Robinson signed and as a result he changed not only the face of MLB but how the entire organization with new spring training standards, increasing accessibility to teams via minor leagues and farms, and opening the accessibility for all races.

Branch-Rickey-w_-Jackie-Robinson-721020I found Branch Ricky’s story admirable because very few people have the ability to go against societal norms to address an issue as large as racial discrimination across a national sport. Branch Ricky fought tooth and nail to helping the MLB overcoming this issue, an issue they did not realize they had. Branch Ricky not only changed people’s perception of the sport but helping them see the problems of their ways, but he also made the sport more accessible and accepted. Those issue that he identified as a player he concurred and improved MLB as a result.


What Else? … Nespresso

Espresso on Coffe BeansI grew up in a household where coffee/espresso was always required to start the day. Both of my parents had strong preferences for their coffee and espresso. My mother would always make a large, strong pot of coffee to please the crowd, whereas my dad would take an hour make each person an individual espresso. So when it came time for me to get my machine I was torn between a coffee or espresso machine. After heavily researching my options I was contemplating between the Citiz  and the Pixie Nespresso machine. After having gone to a Nespresso store, the decision was made for me because the Citiz accommodated taller coffee cup that allowed me to use me to go coffee mug. Now, what is a Nespresso?

NespressoNespresso is a Nestle company that focuses on the entire experience around an individual cup of coffee through the machine, coffee (capsules), and community. They currently hold 1,700 patents protecting its ownership over the entire Nespresso concept. However, the patents began to expire in 2012 so you have and will continue to see competitors moving into the space. It will be quite difficult for competitors to catch up because unlike any other company Nespresso has created a community around their product. Treating customers like royalty; through:

  • NFC cards as key chains allow members to visit a store and access their information without saying a word
  • Member accounts store purchase information so you never need to remember their favorite flavors you can simply reorder.
  • Constantly releasing new flavors to keep members guessing

After glancing through the 2011, 2012, and 2013  financials for Nestle – Nespresso, it is crystal clear that this company is on the up and up. After having reached a net profit of  $5.1 billion in 2013, Nespresso is continuing to set the bar higher with expectations of 5% of organic growth by the middle of 2014.


The Nespresso system is extremely simple, proportioned  espresso brewed from coffee capsules intended for one serving. Each cup is individually brewed.

  • 1976 Eric Favre, an employee of Nestle, invented, patented and introduced the Nespresso system to the business market in Switzerland. The product did not receive significant traction.
  • 1988 Jean-Paul Gaillard began selling the system with a unique twist developing an entire community (Le Club) around the product. Making the product an immediate success.
  • 1990 the firm signed a contract with Turmix to start to sell Nespresso Machines in Switzerland.
  • 1996 first patent application for the Nespresso process was filed.

Nespresso Machines: 

Eugster/Frismag manufacture all Nespresso machines, but they also are the world’s largest coffee machine manufacturer. Eugster/Frismag also manufactures coffee machines for Krups, Magimix, Miele, Siemens, and DeLonghi. Nespresso guarantees that their machines are manufactured by the DeLonghi branch of Eugster/Frismag but one thing to keep in mind is that Eugster/Frismag manufacturers in China under the brand names  Krups, Turmix, Delonghi, and Magimix. So keep an eye out on the Nespresso machine that you choose because lower cost models could be lower cost for a reason.

Nespresso Capsules: 

Nespresso coffee capsules are not to be confused with other coffee capsules. Each capsule contains 5-6 grams of ground coffee and makes one cup of coffee. The capsule itself is made out of aluminum, and the interior of the capsule is lined with food-grade lacquer for health reasons. Nespresso chose to use aluminum because it protects the ground coffee from air and light.

Nespresso Flavors: 


  • Kazaar
  • Dharkan
  • Ristretto
  • Arpeggio
  • Roma
  • Decaf

Pure Origin

  • Indriya from India
  • Rosabaya from Columbia
  • Dulsao from Brasil
  • Bukeela from Ethiopia


  • Fortisso
  • Vivalto
  • Linizio
  • Decaf


  • Livanto
  • Capriccio
  • Volluto
  • Cosi
  • Decaf

Variations: Based on Livanto espresso but is infused with select flavors.

  • 2006 – Apricot, Chestnut Cream, and Gingerbread
  • 2007 – Almond, Cardamon, and Chocolate Orange
  • 2008 – Caramel, Mandarin, and Crystallized Ginger
  • 2009 – Crème de marrons (Chestnut Cream), Apricot and Pain d’Épice (Gingerbread)
  • 2010 – Vanilla, Caramel, and Almond
  • 2011 – Vanilla Blossom, Cherry and Dark Chocolate
  • 2012 – Hazelnut, Coconut, and Macademia
  • 2013 – Cioccorosso OR Masala Chai OR Liminto (Country Dependent)
  • 2013 – Ciocattino, Vanilio, Caramelito

Limited Edition Capsules: Each year Nespresso releases limited edition capsules that appear twice a year once in Spring and once in Autumn.

  • Ensibuko – Fall 2006
  • Oâ – Spring 2007
  • Jalayatra – Fall 2007
  • Jinogalpa – Fall 2008
  • Goroka – Spring 2008
  • Tanzaru – Spring 2010
  • Onirio – Spring 2011
  • Dhjana – Fall 2011
  • Hawaii Kona – Special Reserve 2012
  • NaOra – Spring 2012
  • Crealto – Fall 2012
  • Napoli & Trieste – Spring 2013

Alternative to Nespresso Capsules: Want to lose the warranty on your Nespresso machine? Then I recommend you look into the Alternative Capsules. These Capsules are not created by Nespresso and if any damage occurs to your machine while using one of these capsules your machine’s warranty is no longer valid.

Just to make things a little more complicated, Nespresso has released a new line of machines and capsules, VertuoLine.

Simple Quick Sweet.. Carrot Sweet Potato Puree

PureeI have been making this purée for my families dinner parties since I was a child. This dish has always been quick and simple to make while it delivers rave reviews every time. Try it for yourself and let me know how I can improve it!

Shopping List: 

  • Four large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 2 1/2 cup water
  • One tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks sweet butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup Creme Fraiche
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • A dash of cayenne pepper

Step 1 Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees F

Step 2: Prepare & Bake Potatoes

  1. Scrub Potatoes
  2. Cut a small/deep slit into the top of each
  3. Place into the oven on the center rack for 1 hour (Until potatoes are tender)

Step 3: Prepare & Cook Carrots

  1. Peel and trim the carrots
  2. Cut the carrots into 1-inch lengths
  3. Place them in a saucepan and add the water
  4. Add two tablespoons of butter (Add salt and pepper to taste)
  5. Set over medium heat bring to a boil and cook until the water evaporates

Step 4: Combine Potatoes & Carrots

  1. Scrape out the flesh of the sweet potatoes
  2. Combine with the cooked carrots into a food processor
  3. Add remaining butter and Creme Fraiche
  4. Blend until smooth

Step 5: Optional for you to be able to further the purée to your liking

  1. Add Nutmeg
  2. Add Salt
  3. Add Pepper
  4. Add Cayenne

An Office Favorite… Homemade Banana Bread

246627I highly recommend making this banana bread to bring into coworkers around the holidays for just for a tasty treat to have around the house. I typically make this bread when the banana’s in our house begin to turn and probably would not be eaten otherwise.

Shopping List: 

  • Two ~ eggs
  • 1/3 cup ~ buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup ~ butter
  • Five medium size  ~  bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups ~ white sugar
  • One teaspoon ~ clove
  • One teaspoon ~ cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups ~ all-purpose flour
  • One teaspoon ~ baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ~ salt
  • 1 1/2 cups ~ pecans

Step 1 Preheat the Oven to 325 Degrees

Step 2: Mix dry Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups ~ white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups ~ all-purpose flour
  • One teaspoon ~ clove
  • One teaspoon ~ cinnamon
  • One teaspoon ~ baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ~ salt
  • 1 1/2 cups ~ pecans

Step 3: Mix wet IngredientsIMG_20130922_154506942_HDR

  • Two ~ eggs beat
  • 1/3 cup ~ buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup ~ butter
  • Five medium size  ~  bananas

Step 4: Combine the wet and dry ingredients then place into a baking tray.

Step 5: Depending upon what type of baking tray leave the bread in the oven until they rise.

Quick Blueberry Oatmeal for on the Go!

Serving Size: 1

blueberry grapefruit 005Shopping List: 

  • 1/2 Cup Blueberries
  • 1 Cup Quick 1 minute Oatmeal
  • 2 Teaspoons Chia Seeds
  • Cinnamon (to your liking)
  • Nutmeg (to your liking)


  • Mix the Chia seeds, Oatmeal, Cinnamon and nutmeg in a microwavable container
  • Place the blueberries on the top of the mixture so that they cook with the oatmeal


  • Fill to bowl with milk until the oatmeal is entirely cover
  • Microwave for 3 minutes
  • Mix the blueberries and oatmeal together.


  • You can add nuts, different berries, and fruit to change the flavor. I tend to use whatever is in season.

Halloween Cookies!! Addicting Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Pumpkin Spice CookiesI typically make these cookies around Halloween, and they are always a hit! They are perfect to bring to a Halloween party or to put out for enjoy while carving pumpkins. You can serve the cookies already frosted or with the frosting on the side.

What You Should Buy For The Cookies:

  • 2 1/2 cups  ~ all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon  ~ baking powder
  • One  teaspoon  ~ baking soda
  • Two teaspoons ~ ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ~  ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ~ ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon – pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ~ salt
  • 1/2 cup ~ butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups ~ white sugar
  • 1 cup ~ canned pumpkin puree
  • One ~ egg
  • One teaspoon ~ vanilla extract

What You Should Buy For The Frosting:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • One container of Cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Step 2: Mix Dry ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • One teaspoon baking powder
  • One teaspoon baking soda
  • Two teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Step 3: Mix wet ingredientsPlain Pumpkin Spice Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 4: Combine wet and dry ingredients
Step 5: Place dough onto cookie sheets and bake for 15 minutes
Step 6: Make Cookie Frosting by combining the ingredients below in the food processor and mix until completely smooth.

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • One container of Cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 7 Let the cookies cool and frost each cookie with the Cream Cheese Frosting.