Norwegian Language Opportunities in Los Angeles


Norwegian Alphabet by Jana Johnson Schnoor

Norwegian is not in high demand so opportunities to learn and use the language here in Los Angeles are very limited. There are, however, two establishments that stand out as centers for Norwegian language and culture here in the Los Angeles area: Norwegian Church in San Pedro and Scandinavian Center in Thousand Oaks. At both places, you can not only pursue your interest in learning Norwegian, but you can also learn about Norwegian culture and customs.

Norwegian Church in San Pedro

The Norwegian Church in San Pedro, whose mission is “to create a home away from home for Norwegian residents, students and visitors,” is a thriving community and offers plenty of opportunities for folk in the greater Los Angeles area to explore their Norwegian heritage and pursue Norwegian interests.

  • Norwegian Language Classes for Adults

The Norwegian Church has been offering Norwegian classes for adults for a couple of years now. Participants learn the language as well as get a feel for the culture and lifestyle. Classes take place on Saturdays 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and are led by instructor Olaug Macmillan. The fall session began Saturday, September 10, 2016, with a new series of 10 classes. For more information, contact the church at

To make your trip to San Pedro even more worthwhile on the day of class, stay for Lørdagsgrøt, traditional Norwegian porridge. Every Saturday they serve porridge at 2 o’clock. The cost is $5 per person.

  • Family Sundays

The Norwegian Church used to offer a Norwegian language and culture program for children known as Skolegjengen. Starting this fall, however, they began doing it differently. Instead they now have special “Family Sundays” once a month throughout the year during which they offer different activities including Norwegian language, culture, and traditions. The “Family Sundays” begin with a family service at 11 o’clock which are then followed by kid-friendly food and activities. This fall’s dates are September 11, October 30, November 27, December 11, and January 8, with a special gathering Saturday, November 19, during the weekend of the church’s annual Christmas Bazaar. If interested, please contact the church at for more information and to confirm dates.

  • Library at the Church

The Norwegian Church has a lending library of 6,000 books covering a wide variety of genres in Norwegian, Swedish, and English. The main categories are Art, Religion, Biographies/Autobiographies, Food/Cooking, Travel, History, Culture, and Fiction. Many popular Scandinavian authors are included in the collection.

The library has a self-service checkout system and is available during the church’s regular hours. There is a computer by the library that has a searchable list of all the books in the collection.

  • Other Programs & Events

The Norwegian Church also has a weekday program for families with babies and young children called Småbarnstreff. Every Thursday at 11 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m., a group of parents and children meets in the church garden. The kids play while parents chat. Waffles, coffee, and saft are served. Participants are asked to donate $5 per family for the refreshments. I used to go to Småbarnstreff when my kids were young and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with fellow Norwegians. For more information, click here or contact Margrete at

Another popular program is the church’s Tuesday lunches. Every first Tuesday of the month, a different menu is offered. The cost is $15 per person. There is no binding reservation, but the church does appreciate a heads-up if you’re coming so they can more easily plan the meal. The December Christmas lunch is a special event with a binding reservation of $30.

Scandinavian Center in Thousand Oaks

The Scandinavian Center in Thousand Oaks is home to the Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation whose missions is to “preserve and promote Scandinavian Heritage and Culture for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations.” They offer many programs and events for folk to explore and delve into their Scandinavian heritage and interests.

  • Norwegian Language Classes

According to the Scandinavian Center’s website, Norwegian language classes for both adults and children are offered. Adult classes are on Wednesday evenings and children’s classes are on Wednesday afternoons. For more information, get in touch with Noomi Wennberg through the Scandinavian Center at (805) 241-0391.

  • Scandinavian Book Club

The Scandinavian Book Club is an opportunity I will be exploring this fall. The group generally meets the fourth Thursday each month October through April at 1:30 p.m. at the Scandinavian Center. The group selects books by Scandinavian or Nordic authors that have been translated into English. Everyone can suggest books and it’s decided at each meeting what the book selection will be for the following month. All genres are considered. Books written by Americans living in a Nordic country have also been chosen. For details on the next meeting, reach out to Lana Lundin at

  • Other Programs & Events

The Scandinavian Center also offers Swedish language classes, a genealogy group, lace making workshops, and Brown Bag Lunch Programs that cover a variety of topics such as history, art, biography, music, travel, science and technology, movies, Scandinavian arts and crafts, education, and current affairs. And last but not least, they also sponsor the yearly Scandinavian Festival in April which is a favorite event of mine. The Scandinavian Center can be reached at (805) 241-0391 or for more information on any of the programs mentioned.

Good luck with your Norwegian language endeavors! Please feel free to add any Norwegian language opportunities of which I’m not aware in the comments below.

October 2016: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & CicLAvia

october-2016It’s a busy month ahead, and Halloween and fall festivities aren’t even included in that. Throughout the month, there are celebrations and events featuring countries and cultures from all over the world – Lebanon, Southeast Asia, Lithuania, China, Cuba, Germany, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Greece, Philippines, Congo, Mexico, India, and Asia in general. Where will you travel to this month without even leaving the city?

October is also the month of one of my favorite LA events – CicLAvia. On Sunday, October 16, close to 6 miles of streets will be closed to cars in Downtown LA, and participants will be free to explore all it has to offer. See more details below. I did it last year with my oldest son. There is no better way to get to know a part of town than to ride slowly through it stopping as you please along the way. Now with the Expo Line open all the way to Santa Monica, it’s even easier for Westside families to participate.

How will you explore the diverse richness of Los Angeles this month?


oc-lebanese-festivalOrange County Lebanese Cultural Festival, Orange, Friday, 9/30 – Sunday, 10/2. Enjoy food, entertainment, and family fun at OC Lebanese Cultural Festival now in its sixth year.

Southeast Asia Dayaquarium-of-pacific-seasiaday, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday, 10/1. The Aquarium of the Pacific will celebrate its twelfth annual Southeast Asia Day. The festival’s program will highlight the beauty and diversity of the cultures of Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Indonesia. Guests will enjoy live performances, including music, dance, and cultural craft demonstrations. Ethnic dishes will be available for purchase, and children will have the opportunity to participate in arts and crafts.

lithuanian-fairLithuanian Days Fair, St. Casimir Lithuanian Catholic Church, Los Feliz, Saturday, 10/1 & Sunday, 10/2. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Lithuanian Days Fair. Celebrate Lithuanian culture with dancing and songs, food and drinks, and kids crafts and games.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking TourThe Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 10/1, 10:30am-1pm. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. RSVP is required as group size is limited. This tour is offered every first Saturday of the month.

fowler_nkameNkame: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón, Fowler Museum at UCLA, opening October 2, ongoing until February 17, 2017. The Fowler Museum presents Nkame, the first solo museum exhibition in the United States dedicated to the work of Belkis Ayón (1967–1999)—the late Cuban visual artist who mined the founding myth of the Afro-Cuban fraternal society Abakuá.

Israel: New Year Wishes, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/2, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This Sunday, use papier mache to explore new years wishes.

bowers-octoberfestOctoberfest, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 10/2, 11am-3:30pm. Come celebrate October, the German way! Dance to traditional music played by Ty Rust and the Bavarian Wünderband, enjoy performances by Gypsy Folk Ensemble and Die Gemütlichen Schuhplattler, marvel at David Cousins’ world class juggling skills, and much more.

la-med-fairL.A. Mediterranean Festival, St. Nicholas Cathedral, Los Angeles, Sunday, 10/2, 12pm-9pm. The 20th annual Los Angeles Mediterranean Festival is a celebration of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern culture with authentic foods, traditional dancing, and entertainment. The festival includes live Arabic music performed by prominent artists, singing both traditional and popular songs. Enjoy delicious Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cuisine. Explore the vendors’ marketplace. There will be games for kids, face painting, and much more.


LA GreekFestL.A. Greek Fest, Saint Sophia Cathedral, Pico & Normandie Blvds, Friday 10/7 – Sunday 10/9. The L.A. Greek Fest is your passport to Greece. Each day of festivities is a celebration of food, wine, dance, games, performances, and one-of-a-kind cultural experiences.

fpac-flyer-final-jpgFestival of Philippine Arts and Culture, Echo Park Lake, Saturday, 10/8. This is the longest-running Filipino cultural celebration in Southern California. Come enjoy traditional and contemporary Filipino food, music, dance, crafts, and culture.


USA: Kwakiutl Spirit Masks, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/9, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This Sunday, learn about the Kwakiutl, an American Indian tribe of the northwestern Pacific coast.


hollywood-bowl-kygpKYGO, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, Friday, 10/14 and Saturday, 10/15. If you didn’t have a chance to see Norwegian up-and-coming electronic music artist Kygo live when he performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo in December 2015 or at the Rio Olympics’ Closing Ceremony in August, here’s your chance to catch him at the Hollywood Bowl. The line-up also includes Bob Moses, Labrinth, and Seeb. Tickets are going fast.

ciclavia-heart-of-la-2016CicLAvia: Heart of LA, Downtown LA, Sunday, 10/16, 9am-4pm. Leave your car behind and explore LA like you never have before. The Heart of LA route will take you to MacArthur Park, Chinatown, Mariachi Plaza, and Grand Park while riding through the Arts District, Little Tokyo, Civic Center, and Historic Core. You will enjoy the sights, music, food, and culture that make LA such a vibrant city.

Congo: Ancestral Masks, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/16, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This Sunday, make Congolese ancestral masks with clay.


fowler-family-jamFamily Jam: Celebrate Dia de los Muertos!, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Sunday, 10/23, 2pm-4pm. Enjoy a lively Mariachi performance in honor of Day of the Dead (2pm–3pm). Then, marvel at fantastic sculptures made by contemporary Mexican artists in Intersections and yarn paintings in The Spun Universe. Afterward, try your hand at drawing calaveras (skulls) on your face or a mask with fun face paints and pastels.

India: Diwali Toran, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/23, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This Sunday, create an Indian wall hanging with textiles.

ori-i-tahiti-rootsOri I Tahiti presents “Roots”, Aratani Theatre at Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Downtown LA, Sunday, 10/23, 3pm (doors open at 2pm). Experience Tahitian culture through the beauty of Polynesian dance. This will be the first performance in the United States of the award winning group, Ori I Tahiti. Aloha Hula Polynesian Dance Studio will be opening up the show. For ticket information and to purchase, please visit JACC’s online box office. Seating is limited.


asian-world-film-festivalAsian World Film Festival, Culver City, Monday, 10/24 – Tuesday, 11/1. The Asian World Film Festival brings the best of a broad selection of Asian World cinema to Los Angeles in order to draw greater recognition to the region’s wealth of filmmakers. The festival screens films from 50 countries across Asia spanning from Turkey to Japan and Russia to India.

Dia de los MuertosOlvera Street Dia De Los Muertos, Olvera Street, Downtown LA, Tuesday, 10/25 – Wednesday, 11/2. Olvera Street is home to a colorful celebration that takes place over nine days. Merging ancient traditions with modern-day interpretations, you are invited to join in honoring deceased loved ones. At 7pm each night, you can watch the Novenario Procession, a colorful parade of “Living Muertos” in which participants dress up as skeletons in colorful traditional, and not-so-traditional, costumes. Traditional Mayan Blessing/Soul Cleansing takes place before and after the procession, and champurrado and sweet bread are offered afterwards. Festival Days take place 10/29 – 11/2 (check website for times). Community Altars, or “Las Ofrendas,” are on display in the plaza 10/28 – 11/2.

Have you decided how you’ll explore the diverse richness of Los Angeles this month?

Guide to Norway’s Slow TV on Netflix

netflix-slow-tvRecently, we’ve been exploring Netflix’s Slow TV offerings which were introduced in August 2016. I’ve been curious about the Slow TV phenomenon that has swept through Norway and has now arrived in the US via Netflix. According to Wikipedia, Slow TV is “a term used for a genre of live ‘marathon’ television coverage of an ordinary event in its complete length.”

What I quickly learned was that not all the Netflix offerings are true Slow TV and that some of the offerings are actually segments of a much longer original broadcast. I also learned that there are different sub-genres of Slow TV. Some are meditative and relaxing; others are informative and entertaining. (Don’t have Netflix? You’ll find links to the programs elsewhere on the internet at the end of the post.)

Slow TV: Train Ride Bergen to Oslo

This is a true Slow TV program, the original one actually. It is an actual train ride between these two cities filmed in real time. Train Ride Bergen to Oslo, or Bergensbanen minutt for minutt in Norwegian, offers you the opportunity to “take in the passing landscapes captured by train-mounted cameras during a rail journey through forests and mountains” (Netflix description) across Southern Norway. It is a 7-hour, 14-minute journey, and you can follow along for the full ride. It was filmed during the summer of 2009 in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the rail line that fall, which is when it was broadcast.

slow-tv-bergen-osloIt’s surprisingly mesmerizing and addicting, even with the frequent tunnels, some of them long! You never know what will appear at the end of the tunnel or around the next bend. And it’s calming with the beautiful scenery and rhythmic sound of riding along the tracks. I certainly can’t see sitting for seven hours straight watching, but watching segments at a time or having it on in the background seem like more likely scenarios.

Slow TV: Northern Passage

This is one of the offerings that is NOT actually Slow TV. Instead it’s a produced documentary-style show using footage from the original Slow TV broadcast. Going on a Hurtigruten cruise along Norway’s western coast is high on my wishlist, and here I got to take the six-day northbound journey from Bergen to Kirkenes in only 58 minutes.

slow-tv-northern-passageThe original Slow TV version, Hurtigruten minutt for minutt, was a 134-hour live broadcast shown in Norway in the summer of 2011. It became such a national sensation, both in real life and online, that locals would arrive in boats and on land to welcome the ship with flags and music and those in other parts of Norway and abroad would stay up late to follow along on TV or the Internet.

Netflix’s program had our constant attention. Even though it’s not an example of Slow TV, I highly recommend it. There was a party atmosphere almost the whole time since it was such a popular sailing. Also, the scenery is stunning, the landscape magnificent, and the midnight sun unbelievable. A highlight of the voyage was when the boat entered Trollfjorden. Locals dressed up as trolls and danced along the fjord. This happened close to midnight, but you would never know that based on the light at that time. My desire to take a trip with Hurtigruten along the coast is just as strong, if not stronger after watching this program. This documentary was a great preview of the trip.

Slow TV: Northern Railway

This is a 52-minute documentary about the railway from Trondheim to Bodø north of the Arctic Circle which uses footage from the original Slow TV broadcast. The program is a very edited and produced program with music, narration, interviews, and historical contexts. It is very informational  and interesting with beautiful landscapes and fun musical accompaniment.


The original Slow TV version, Nordlandsbanen minutt for minutt, which you can view in its entirety here at NRK, was broadcast in 2012 and lasts 9 hours and 50 minutes. This is a very unique production because it combines four different train rides, each filmed in a different season (July 31, February 23, September 27, and May 15). As the train rolls along, the seasons change seamlessly. The program is introduced and explained and then the journey begins with only music as its accompaniment.

Slow TV: National Firewood Series

There are three National Firewood options on Netflix: Evening (3 hours, 54 minutes), Night (6 hours, 1 minute), and Morning (2 hours, 5 minutes). These three programs actually combine to make the original 12-hour broadcast. Begin the series with Evening, continue with Night, and end with Morning.


The program was inspired by Lars Mytting’s best-selling nonfiction book Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way. Lars Mytting appears throughout the program adding his insight to the discussions about firewood.

The first episode, National Firewood Evening, is four hours of “rich content” related to firewood culture in Norway. Guests of all kinds share their expertise or thoughts on all things firewood. There are unique musical performances and a wood stacking competition. You never knew there was so much to know, appreciate, and admire about firewood.

The next episodes, National Firewood Night and Morning, are eight hours of “warm firewood”. You watch a fire in a fireplace and hear the crackling along with background noises. Occasionally, someone adds a log or two. Other times you are treated to wood-themed music, poetry, or prose. I’m thinking these episodes might make a good show to watch when the temperatures drop and the days get shorter or we need some cozy images on our TV.

Slow TV: National Knitting Series

The final Slow TV offerings from Netflix are National Knitting Evening (3 hours, 55 minutes) and National Knitting Night (8 hours, 39 minutes). National Knitting Morning was supposed to be offered as well, but at the time of this post, it was not available. Once again these are parts of the whole broadcast originally aired in Norway. The first program, National Knitting Evening, is four hours of inspiration, tradition, and new ideas. In the next one, National Knitting Night, you watch in realtime as the participants attempt to break a world record for shearing, spinning, and knitting wool into a men’s sweater.


Knitting is not a hobby of mine, but I have to say that the beginning of National Knitting Night was very interesting. It starts immediately with the shearing of a sheep which I’ve never seen in person, but I felt like I was there watching it this time. Then it continues with spinning the wool and eventually knitting the sweater. The big question is, will they beat Australia’s record?

Will you give Slow TV a try?

When I heard Netflix was offering Norway’s Slow TV programs, I was very excited that I’d get to see what these hours-long broadcasts were all about. It did take some research to understand what I was watching since Netflix just presented them all as Slow TV and also didn’t differentiate between the various knitting and firewood programs. But in the end, I feel I got a good grasp of Norway’s Slow TV and enjoyed what I saw and look forward more.

Are  you interested in checking out the Slow TV programs but don’t have Netflix? You can find the programs online as follows:

Train Ride Bergen to Oslo -> Bergensbanen minutt for minutt (full original broadcast)

Northern Passage -> A Norway Passage: The Most Beautiful Passage (the 58-minute documentary)

Northern Railway -> Nordlandsbanen minutt for minutt (full original broadcast)

National Firewood Series -> Nasjonal vedkveld (in Norwegian, no English subtitles)

National Knitting Night -> National Knitting Eve (in English)

At the time of this post, The Telemark Canal and Salmon Fishing were missing from Netflix’s line-up even though they were advertised earlier this summer. However, you can see them at Telemarkskanalen minutt for minutt (10 hours divided into 13 segments) and Lakseelva minutt for minutt (12 hours divided into 6 segments) at NRK, Norway’s national broadcaster.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Norway’s Slow TV. Have you watched any programs? Which ones and what did you think?

September 2016: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Scandinavian Events

September 2016Many of us are back to the grind with school and after-school and weekend activities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to seek out opportunities to explore other cultures or visit new-to-us areas of Los Angeles to broaden our horizons.

September offers many such opportunities. Chinatown offers walking tours and a moon festival, Olvera Street celebrates Mexican Independence Day with a multi-day event, and Watts is hosting a multicultural Day of the Drum Festival.

I’m happy to report that Scandinavia is well represented this month with AutumnFest & Höstmarknad Celebration in Agoura, Vista Viking Festival in North San Diego County, the benefit concert Nordic Noir LA at the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, and a family art workshop featuring Norse gods at Barnsdall Art Park. See below for more details on those events.

Before moving on to this month’s events, I’d like to include a heads-up about a Norwegian music artist coming to town in October. Kygo, an up-and-coming electronic music artist, has two shows at Hollywood Bowl – Friday, October 14, and Saturday, October 15. I first learned about Kygo when he performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo in December 2015 and then I heard him again at Rio Olympics’ Closing Ceremony in August. His music is described as tropical house, “a slowed-down style heavy on piano melodies,” according to Rolling Stone.

How will you explore the diverse richness of Los Angeles this month?


The Undiscovered Chinatown TourUndiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday 9/3, 10:30am-1pm. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. Offered every first Saturday of the month.

Skirball—On EnsembleFamily Amphitheater Performances: On Ensemble, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday 9/3, 12pm & 2pm. Be there as On Ensemble, one of the most respected ensembles in the taiko (Japanese drumming) world, performs at the Skirball. Led by childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato (Maz) Baba, On Ensemble fuses the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences from jazz and rock to central Asian overtone singing.

Barnsdall Art Park SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays—USA: Hawaiian Feather Art, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 9/4, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This Sunday, explore Hawaiian Feather Art.


Festa ItalianaBowers—Festa Italiana, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday 9/4, 11am-3:30pm. Enjoy an afternoon of popular and classical Italian music featuring Tony Ciaramitaro singing along with the Sicilian Band and the Classical Singers of the Orange County School of the Arts. Franklin Haynes Marionettes will keep you laughing with their funny antics. There will be art projects, face painting, and food sampling for the entire family.

Skirball—El Haru KuroiFamily Amphitheater Performances: El Haru Kuroi, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday 9/4, 12pm & 2pm. Wrap up this season of Family Amphitheater Performances with El Haru Kuroi. Natives of East Los Angeles, El Haru Kuroi perform music representative of their cultural upbringing, blending the styles of Mexican, South American, African, and American music.


LACMA—AndellAndell Family Sundays—A Family Collection: Chinese Paintings, LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday 9/4 (offered every Sunday in September), 12:30pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, be inspired by the special exhibition Alternative Dreams: 17th-Century Chinese Paintings from the Tsao Family Collection to start your own collection of art by making your own paintings in the art workshop.


Barnsdall Art Park SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays—China: Autumn Moon Festival, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 9/11, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This Sunday, create moon and dragon lanterns for Autumn Moon Festival.



Kids in the Courtyard: Baskets of Fun, Fowler Museum Courtyard, UCLA, Sunday 9/11, 2pm-4pm. Watch Japanese fiber artist Hisako Sekijima as she works right before your eyes. Then visit the galleries to find her completed work in The Box Project: Uncommon Threads. With natural and synthetic materials, you’ll have the opportunity to try your hand at basket weaving and take home a mini-basket of your own creation.


labffLos Angeles Brazilian Film Festival, Hollywood, Friday 9/16 – Tuesday 9/20. The Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival is recognized as the most prestigious Brazilian film festival outside Brazil. It showcases the best in new Brazilian cinema and provides the movie-loving public with access to some of the most critically acclaimed and important Brazilian filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging new talent by bringing them together in the heart of the entertainment capital of the world. All screenings, except opening and closing events, are free. See website for details and schedule.

Placita OlveraMexican Independence Day, Olvera Street, Downtown LA, Saturday 9/17 & Sunday 9/18. Celebrate Mexican Independence from Spain with popular and traditional entertainment, cultural activities, historic displays, food, artisan exhibits, and more. Special entertainment is also scheduled on September 16th.


Chinatown Moon Festival78th Annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday 9/17, 5pm- 11pm. Join in the festivities of this harvest festival celebrated by the Chinese dating back over 3,000 years. There will be artisans and an artisan market, music performances, children’s craft workshops, a culinary stage, Capuchin Monkey and Trainer, moon viewing with telescopes, and food trucks.


AutumnFestScandinavian AutumnFest & Höstmarknad Celebration, Vasa Park, Agoura, Sunday 9/18, 9am-6pm. AutumnFest offers a wide range of activities for the whole family. In addition to enjoying traditional foods of Sweden, you can be a judge in the 8th Annual Swedish Meatball Contest. You can buy beautifully crafted gifts and souvenirs and enjoy Scandinavian musicians and folk dancers, demonstrations, and a Viking reenactment group that shares stories about Viking times. New for 2016 is an art show. There will be many activities for kids including a huge waterslide, an alpine tube slide, swimming, a rock climbing wall, and field games.

Barnsdall Art Park SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays—Thailand: Thai Puppets, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 9/18, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This particular Art Sunday is planned in conjunction with Thai Cultural Day.

Thai Cultural Day, Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Loz Feliz, Sunday 9/18, 11am-5pm. This year the festival celebrates the culture of Northeastern Thailand. It will be a day of traditional dance, music, and art.


LA Korean FestivalLos Angeles Korean Festival, Seoul International Park, Normandie & Olympic Blvds, Thursday 9/22 – Sunday 9/25. This is a free four-day festival whose mission it is to provide the community with the best possible outlet to learn about the roots and traditions of Korea. Entertaining performances will lighten up the festival’s main stage. Thoughtful cultural exhibitions will educate visitors about Korea’s history and traditions. Local restaurants as well as vendors from South Korea will present a wide variety of food in one space. The shopping space will consist of booths selling Korean products such as cosmetics, appliances, apparel, and accessories.

Pasadena Greek FestPasadena Greek Fest, Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church, Pasadena, Friday 9/23 (evening) – Sunday 9/25. Enjoy performances of Greek dancing and music; talks on cuisine, history, and travel; and tastes of Greek foods such as gyros, souvlaki, moussaka, and baklava. A special Kid’s Zone entertains kids with bouncy inflatables, games and a climbing wall.


Watts TowersWatts Towers Day of the Drum Festival, The Watts Towers Arts Center Campus, Saturday 9/24. Start the day with a Yoruba ground blessing uniting all cultures based on common themes and principles. Then continue the celebration with traditional Korean drum and dance; North African Berber music; Afro-Venezuelan music, song, and dance; and much more. Guided tours of “Nuestro Pueblo”, the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, and supervised children’s activities will also be offered, along with food, arts, and craft vendors. Festivities continue the following day with the 40th Annual Simon Rodia Watts Tower Jazz Festival.

Vista Viking FestivalVista_Viking_Festival, Vista (North San Diego County), Saturday 9/24 & Sunday 9/25. Make your way to Vista to see, share, and sample all things Viking and Scandinavian. Spectators can enjoy a variety of entertainment all day long on two stages. In addition to fine musical performances and acts, there are also arts and crafts and games for children, delicious Nordic food throughout the grounds, fine spirits, Viking competitions (Fish Fling, Log Toss, Horn Blowing, and Battle Cry!), ax throwing, spear throwing, archery, and Viking villages and encampments. There will also be plenty of opportunities to peruse and purchase beautiful Nordic merchandise and arts and crafts, both handmade and imported.

Aquarium of the Pacific Baja Splash Cultural FestivalBaja Splash Cultural Festival, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday 9/24 & Sunday 9/25. In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and Mexican Independence Day, the Aquarium of the Pacific will host its fifteenth annual Baja Splash Cultural Festival featuring live entertainment, crafts, educational programs, ethnic cuisine, and much more. Enjoy Mariachi music, Mexican folkloric and Aztec dance troupes, interactive mural painting, Salvadoran dance, Guatemalan performances, and more.

Barnsdall Art Park SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays—Scandinavia: Norse Gods, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 9/25, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This Sunday, use paint while exploring Norse gods.


fowler-explore-indonesiaExplore Indonesia: Wear Batik, Drink Coffee, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Sunday 9/25, 12:30pm-5pm. Presented in collaboration with the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Los Angeles, Indonesian Trade Promotion Center, and Indonesian Women Alliance, this afternoon showcase will allow visitors to experience Indonesian batik and coffee. Go for a free Indonesian specialty-coffee tasting while enjoying live performances of Javanese dance, interactive seminars followed by talks about the rich history of batik textiles and coffee traditions in Indonesia in the Amphitheater. The day includes live demonstrations of the traditional batik technique. Free and open to the public.

nordic-noir-laNordic Noir LA, Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, Sunday 9/25, doors open at 6pm, concert begins at 8pm. Nordic Noir LA is a one-of-a-kind benefit concert for Friends of Griffith Park, a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable group, hosted by internationally recognized Danish film composer Jacob Groth and the Danish Film Harmonics. Groth composed the scores of the three original Millennium films based on the worldwide bestselling crime novels by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, and The Girl Who Played with Fire. Experience the acclaimed soundtrack for the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo while taking part in the effort to conserve Los Angeles’ beloved environment and urban wildlife. Use discount code Nordic50 for half off tickets.

Have you decided how you’ll explore the diverse richness of Los Angeles this month?

Family Hike: Runyon Canyon

Runyon Canyon has been in the news a bit this summer due its recent facelift. It’s an extremely popular urban LA hike in the Hollywood Hills that is known as not only a great workout but also an interesting people watching place and “Instagram photo opp”.

Runyon Canyon east trail

It was closed for four months (April – July 2016) to replace a water pipeline and renovate the main trail. Now it has a newly paved fire road and new water fountains. It hadn’t been on my list of hikes I really wanted to do, but now that I had read about it in blogs and newspapers, I wanted to check it out – and I rallied the family to join me.

Runyon Canyon family

There’s always a bit of uncertainty involved in trying a new hike – parking situation, hiking route, and trail intensity – all equally pertinent issues in this case. I had tried to research the hike a little before heading out. In this case, I learned there were 3 entrances to the park and 3 trails of varying intensity within the park that all connect and loop together. Things wouldn’t be clarified until we got there.

Coming from West LA, I chose the entrance at the end of North Fuller Avenue (1854 North Fuller Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046). I had read there is plenty of street parking there, which there was, but available street parking was very scarce. You have to be lucky (and avoid street cleaning days), and we luckily were and got parking within a block of the park entrance. Another main entrance is off Mulholland Drive at Pyramid Place, where there apparently is a little lot, and a third entrance is at the end of North Vista Street just a couple of blocks away from Fuller Avenue.

Once parked and sunblocked, we headed towards the park. We were so surprised to see a self-serve snack stand at the park entrance that worked on the honor system! We had flashbacks to our cycling tour in Switzerland where we had come across the same thing out in the countryside – a well stocked and nicely organized snack stand available for passers-by to use honestly and respectfully. It’s such an unexpected thing to see, especially in a big city like LA.

Runyon Canyon snack stand

The kids noticed some people walk by and take items without paying, but I also noticed a QR code with a Venmo label and preferred to think that they would pay later or on their way out. We finished admiring the snack stand and promised the kids something upon our return.

I wasn’t quite sure which way to go after entering the park. We wanted one of the harder hikes, not just the newly paved fire road. We soon passed by a large lawn that was fenced off; this is where free yoga classes happen. Then we came to an unsigned junction by a new water fountain (a fancy one with four different spouts—one for adults, one for kids, one for dogs, and one to refill water bottles!).

Runyon Canyon junctionRunyon Canyon fountain

A sign would have been helpful for us newbies to Runyon Canyon. In a recent LA Times article, I had read about the “main trail”, the east or “steps” trail, and the west or “spine” trail. I remembered reading at to go counterclockwise for a steeper, more scenic climb, so we continued straight (and did not take the path to the left).

Runyon Canyon courtBefore we knew it, we were on the east trail. We passed the odd unfinished basketball court which actually looked like a tennis court to us. Soon we were upon the first scenic viewpoint, known as Inspiration Point. From there the hike became much more challenging as we embarked upon the wooden steps and climbed up the ridge line.

Runyon Canyon steps

The trail soon leveled out and we had amazing views towards the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory, and of course the city views behind us continued. We came to another scenic viewpoint. This one is called Clouds Rest.

Runyon Canyon hills view

At this point we hadn’t even hiked a mile yet and weren’t ready to begin heading back down, so we chose to continue upward and onward instead of heading back down into the canyon along the fire road. Also, the ridge on the other side looked interesting to hike. We followed the fire road up for a bit, past a house I admired (and later learned is called Runyon Ranch and is a private home that’s available as a shooting location and private party venue), and then back onto a dirt trail.

Runyon Canyon Runyon Ranch

One thing I loved about this Runyon Canyon hike was the variety of terrain we encountered. So far we’d had wide dirt paths, irregular and steep steps, single track trails, and paved road. Now we came across a series of wooden staircases which was then followed by more single track, some it quite steep and very uneven, as we made our way across the west ridge and then down again to the bottom of the canyon where we started. In a way, it was like a real life obstacle course at times, with great views and fun people watching to boot.

Runyon Canyon stairsRunyon Canyon climbing

The west ridge, or spine trail, was certainly more technically challenging due to the erosion and at times steep ascent or descent. There were stretches where we had to use all fours to climb up or steady ourselves going down. For us the challenge was not slip-sliding down the slopes. For the hikers coming up, their challenge was keeping a steady breath. Many of them were really huffing and puffing as they passed us.

Runyon Canyon west ridge

I highly recommend Runyon Canyon for families. It was a short but sweet excursion with a sense of adventure and a great variety of trail experiences and incredible views. Our loop was about 2.5 miles and took about an hour, not including stops at the scenic viewpoints. Runyon Canyon is also a dog park, much of it off-leash. Since we’re not a dog owning family, my kids got a kick out of seeing dogs along the trail.

Runyon Canyon west

Doobie is almost 10 and handled the terrain perfectly fine. Much younger kids would probably have some difficulty, or at least certainly need adult support to get through some stretches safely. But the great thing about Runyon Canyon is that all the trails connect and loop together so you can find something perfect for your family. Even a hike along the fire road would yield fabulous views.

Hiking Runyon Canyon was certainly an example of taking advantage of what LA has to offer – fun hiking along with spectacular city views.

CicLAvia: Iconic Wilshire Boulevard (2016)

Another CicLAvia is in the books for me, my fifth one. It was a ride along Wilshire Boulevard starting in Downtown LA and going to Koreatown. I was actually considering not doing this ride because it was a partial repeat of a previous route I had already done, but then Doobie expressed interest in joining me and how could I resist that?

The first Iconic Wilshire Boulevard ride in 2014 was quite the city adventure on wheels for me. This one turned out to be much more relaxing. I really enjoyed the experience and am so glad I took advantage of the event and that Doobie joined me.

One Wilshire Hub

One Wilshire Hub

Now with the Metro Expo Line extended through our neighborhood, we had easy access to Downtown LA and we were at One Wilshire Hub in no time. Our biggest challenge was getting the bikes up from the underground station. We missed the elevator and Doobie had a little trouble holding on to his bike on the busy escalators. But it all worked out with the help of friendly and helpful fellow commuters.

CicLAvia Wilshire routemap

Since I had already done this route (although the 2014 version was about twice as long), I did not really have any particular plans, unlike CicLAvia: Heart of LA (2015)  when I had a whole wishlist of places I wanted to see and visit. This time, I just wanted to enjoy and take advantage of the open streets (and hopefully find one geocache that was along the route, a new one since my last ride there).

Doobie, however, had an agenda. He wanted to hunt Pokémon, stop at PokéStops and Gyms, and hatch eggs. I was totally okay with that. It would give me ample time to people watch and take in the whole atmosphere of the event. On their website, CicLAvia even had a list of the 56 PokéStops along the route with a reminder to be mindful and not to stop in the middle of the route. Continue reading

Summer in Norway: Exploring the Coastal Trail in Kragerø

A new favorite activity during our annual summer trip to Norway is exploring Kyststien i Kragerø, a hiking trail through the municipality of Kragerø following the coastline as much as possible. Our summer home is on an island, but the trail passes right by on the mainland a very short boat ride away.

Kyststien 2015 Soppekilen

The Coastal Trail in Kragerø is a relatively new part of our summer consciousness. It officially opened in November 2013, so this year was our third summer with it. It’s part of an effort to have a continuous trail all the way from Oslo to Stavanger. The idea was to use the old road system that once followed the coastline.

The complete trail in Kragerø is about 40 kilometers/25 miles long, and it is divided into 3 stretches (Fossing – Helle, Helle – Kragerø, and Stabbestad – Ellingsvika). Remnants of the old road system remain but only in small areas. Most of it is under private docks and lawns. The trail runs along the coastline where possible, but at times it has to swing into the woods or over a mountain ridge. Continue reading

Barcelona and Salvador Dalí right here in Los Angeles!

Exhibition PosterIt’s always hard to return to real life after a vacation full of unique and interesting experiences. This week we seized the opportunity to relive a bit of our recent vacation in Catalonia, Spain, right here at home. We learned that there was an exhibition of Salvador Dalí sculptures in Beverly Hills – an open-air exhibit of 12 “monumental and museum sized” bronze sculptures, free and open to the public at Two Rodeo Drive. We were intrigued.

As usual we went to Norway this summer, but afterwards we ventured onwards to the region of Catalonia in northeastern Spain for a 5-day self-guided bike tour. (Bike tours have become a favorite type of family vacation; this was our third one.) After our bike tour ended, we rented a car to explore the Costa Brava area (“brave or wild coast”) for a few days. One of our stops en route was Gala Dalí Castle House-Museum in Púbol, one of three sites in Catalonia dedicated to the life and works of Salvador Dalí.

Touring the castle and grounds was a highlight of our car ride. In the middle of nowhere was suddenly this site full of interesting history and unique and unusual design elements. Our guide gave us tidbits of information that brought the artist to life for us. Through this visit, we felt like we got to know the artist a little bit, got some insight into his personality and sense of humor. So, when my husband learned there was an exhibit of Dalí sculptures right here at home, we were quick to plan an outing. He even knew of a Barcelona-inspired restaurant nearby that he had meant for us to try before going on our trip that he added to our excursion for the day.

The exhibition in Beverly Hills was so much more fun and interesting than I expected. Twelve large Dalí statues were located throughout the Two Rodeo Drive area. His iconic melting clocks were represented, and we were reunited with his fantastical elephants which we had seen in the gardens at Púbol. Continue reading

Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Summer 2016 Edition

Summer 2016Summer is the perfect time to explore and take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer. This summer make a pact to visit a new area of Los Angeles or participate in a new activity—a cultural art project, a concert in a special outdoor setting, a festival celebrating a unique culture, or a bike ride exploring a new part of Los Angeles, just to mention a few options. The experience will open your eyes to the richness of where we live. You’ll be amazed at what’s available to us.

Two events I highly recommend take place this summer—Los Angeles River Ride and CicLAvia. We have participated in both, LA River Ride 4 years ago (so we’re due a repeat) and CicLAvia many times. The CicLAvia route this summer is one I’ve done before and really enjoyed, though this summer’s route is a little shorter. Now with the new Metro Expo Line extension running, Westsiders can easily get to Downtown LA to participate. Read on for details and links to both events.

This summer, my goal is to give Chinatown Summer Nights a try. It’s been on my radar for a few summers now and we’ve never had a chance to go. Hopefully, this summer is the year we finally do it. What do you think your family will explore this summer?


Getty Family FestivalFamily Festival, Getty Center, Saturday, June 11, 10am-6pm. Navigate the myriad cultures of the Silk Road and beyond in this family festival inspired by the exhibitions Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road and Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscripts. With hands-on workshops and interactive events, you can make your own book, write a couple of Chinese characters, witness the beauty of calligraphy from the Middle Kingdom, be entranced by stories of Buddha in animal forms, and feel the world’s interconnectedness through music and dance from China to Peru.

16th annual river ride16th Annual Los Angeles River Ride, Autry Center in Griffith Park, Sunday, June 12. What better way to explore the city we live in than by bike. Join over 2,000 other riders and enjoy a great day of bicycling fun, exploration, a post-ride expo, a raffle, live music, and more. 7 great rides: 100-mile, 70-mile, 50-mile, 36-mile, 25-mile, 15-mile Family Ride, plus a 2-mile Kids’ Ride + Festival. All participants receive a t-shirt, goodie bag, and finisher’s medal. Kids 12 and under ride for free for all rides. All proceeds benefit the work of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, the only non-profit organization working to make all communities in L.A. County healthy, safe, and fun places to ride bikes.

Bayou Festival 201630th Annual Long Beach Bayou Festival, Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach, Saturday, June 18, & Sunday, June 19. Experience the Bayou with this two-day family festival featuring authentic Cajun and Creole food, cultural music, dance lessons, crawfish eating contests, a children’s corner with arts and crafts and other activities, and a Mardi Gras parade. There will also be live performances at the Zydeco Stage, Blues Stage, and Children’s Stage.

Big Irish Fair & MusicfestBig Irish Fair & MusicFest, El Dorado Park, Long Beach, Saturday, June 18, & Sunday, June 19. This festival features 16 areas of music, song, and dance; sports such as Irish football and hurling; a walk through the legends and lore of ancient Ireland at Tara Village; a Children’s Leprechaun Kingdom; Irish Art Show; a marketplace with Irish import and gift shop vendors; and special events such as a Grand Parade of the Irish, a sheep herding show, and an Irish dog show.

Chinatown Summer NightsChinatown Summer Nights, Downtown LA, 3rd Saturdays during summer months (6/18, 7/16, and 8/20), 5pm-12am. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos this summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs.

CicLAviaCicLAvia – Iconic Wilshire Boulevard, Sunday, August 14, 9am-4pm. CicLAvia heads back to Iconic Wilshire Boulevard as Koreatown, Westlake, and Downtown Los Angeles host another open streets event. Streets will be closed to cars and open for cyclists, pedestrians, runners, and skaters to use as a recreational space. You will enjoy the sights, music, food, and culture that make LA such a vibrant city.


Undiscovered Chinatown Walking TourUndiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, first Saturday of each month, 10:30am-1pm. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

Barnsdall Art Park SundaysBarnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, every Sunday, 10am-12pm. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. This summer explore Mexico, India, Japan, Tibet, USA, Medieval Europe, Australia, Canada, and China through a variety of projects. See website for schedule.


skirball-for-families-amphitheater-newFamily Amphitheater Performances: The Sounds of Our City, Skirball Cultural Center, Saturdays & Sundays, June 25 – September 4. This summer, the Skirball’s family amphitheater series honors the diverse cultural communities of Los Angeles through the eclectic sounds of our city—from son jarocho to indie rock to Yiddish folk tunes. Put on your dancing shoes, get your groove on, share stories, and discover the many musical traditions of LA! Performances run every Saturday and Sunday from June 25 through September 4. See website for full schedule.

Grand PerformancesGrand Performances, California Plaza, Downtown LA, June – August. Grand Performances bring artists and audiences together by thoughtfully curating an array of music, dance, film, and spoken word featuring great artists from around the globe and our very own streets of L.A. The summer series of free outdoor concerts celebrates our city’s rich diversity through performing arts at a stunning outdoor venue in Downtown LA. See website for schedule of performances.


summersounds2016-headSummerSounds: World Music for Kids, Hollywood Bowl, weekday mornings, July 11 – August 5. SummerSounds is a fun-filled, four-week series of lively concerts combined with art workshops. Join their dynamic hosts as they lead you on a journey to discover music, dance, and art from cultures around the world. Situated in the intimate setting of the Hollywood Bowl Museum patio, SummerSounds features four different programs, each highlighting a distinct music tradition – a new show every week. Two performances daily. This summer’s program includes music from USA, France, Japan, and Mexico. See website for schedule and ticket information.

Ford AmphitheatreFord Family Series: Big World Fun, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday mornings, July & August. Travel the world without leaving LA, as groups representing music and dance from Mexico, the Philippines, Japan, and more enchant and delight. The Big World Fun family series takes place on Saturday mornings at 10:00 a.m. in July and August. These hour-long music and dance performances are for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Come early to explore wild animals, get busy with craft activities, and grab a bite before the show. See website for schedule of performances and ticket information.

Annenberg Space for PhotographyREFUGEE, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, ongoing until August 21. Through images created by five internationally acclaimed artists, REFUGEE explores the lives of refugees from a host of diverse populations dispersed and displaced throughout the world. The exhibit features photographs taken in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Myanmar, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United States.

Skylight StudiosNew Americans, Skylight Studios at The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, ongoing until August 21. In conjunction with the REFUGEE exhibit, the New Americans installation at Skylight Studios features a collection of stories on refugees who were resettled  in the United States to start a new life through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The installation features “The Refugee Project,” an interactive visual narrative created from 40 years of UNHCR refugee data; New Roots, a long-form multimedia experience by visual journalist Sarah Ann Jump featuring a Congolese refugee family resettling in Rochester, New York; several short films of refugee families sharing their experiences as they resettle in California and adapt to their new lives; and a photo series by blogger and photographer Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York which features the personal stories of refugees recently cleared for resettlement in America.

Bowers-Museum-once-upon-the-timeOnce Upon a Time… Exploring the World of Fairy Tales, Kidseum at Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, ongoing until August 28. This is a unique and educational exhibit focusing on the power and significance of fairy tales throughout history and from around the world. From an African jungle to a giant’s castle, explore larger-than-life pages of seven favorite fairy tales. Enter via a magical portal into a fabulous storybook kingdom and learn the meaning and history of tales you’ve known all your life and others that may be new. Get into the story as you cross a wooden bridge in “Anansi and the Talking Melon,” play a harpsichord in “Beauty and the Beast,” try on a glass slipper in “Cinderella,” work at a cobblers bench in “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” climb a beanstalk in “Jack and the Beanstalk,” catch a wolf in “Lon Po Po,” and crawl through a mole’s hole in “Thumbelina.” See website for ticket and schedule information.

What do you think your family will explore this summer?

Welcome to the neighborhood, Expo Line!

Westwood Ranch Park StationOn the weekend of May 20, the long awaited Expo Line extension from Culver City to Santa Monica opened with great fanfare. There were free rides for all Expo Line riders and parties with food trucks, entertainment, and children’s activities at new stations. Despite there not being an official party at our new station, there was still a very festive feel. So many interested and curious people had come to check out the new light rail service, so many that they all couldn’t get on the train to Santa Monica when it came.

Train to Santa MonicaI tested the new line the other day. I had to serve hot lunch at my kids’ school in Santa Monica, an activity which has kind of lost its luster because they’re not as eager to let me hang with them while they eat with their friends. It all became much more alluring when I decided to make a little adventure out of it for myself. I made a pact to take public transit to the school. Continue reading