Learning How Olive Oil is Made in Ojai

travel, California, Ojai, MercedesWhen Catherine came to pick me up for our first adventure in Ojai, it was in a cherry red Mercedes, oh yeah. How do I look in the passenger seat? Our first stop: Ojai Olive Oil, for a fascinating few hours. In addition to learning what kinds of oils different olives yield, we learned so much about the industry. Instead of using a press, most olive oil manufacturers now use a centrifuge. Ojai’s equipment is Italian (of course!) and goes through 800 lbs of olives in an hour. They’ve decided that keeping the pits in yields better taste — so they’re not separated until the very end! Ojai Olive Oil’s owner, Ron Asqith, will take you through the whole process, from washing to paste to the separation of all water, if you take his tour.

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Ojai or Why I Don’t Go To L.A.

travel, California, OjaiLas Vegas and Los Angeles are so close, just one affordable 70-minute flight away. But I have not been back once since I moved back to the United States more than a year ago. The huge elephant in the room is that L.A. was not good to me, and I really don’t have any affinity for the place at all, although I have two very dear friends there. But while I do like to get all riled up about the place, saying “why would I ever go back?” blah blah, the truth is simpler. My life in Las Vegas is ridiculously, over-the-top, out-of-control busy. I moved here from a town of 3,000 people, people. When I want a weekend off from Sin City, I am not headed to L.A., where I get lost and sit in traffic and can’t find parking. When I can get away for a few days, I want peace, a charming little getaway where I can see lush landscapes and get outside.

Enter Ojai.

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Grin and Bear It

Las Vegas, Big Bang TheorySometimes Mercury is in retrograde… And then AFTER it’s done, you hit a rough patch. That’s life! (One bright spot: being named on a Top Female Bloggers list.) My advice: grab a friend (meet Melissa, who just moved to Vegas from New York!), get ridiculously dressed up — and host a party. It’s the Vegas way. (And if that doesn’t work, I was today reminded of similar advice from the wise man, Jay-Z: “Dust your shoulders off.”) Work, boy and car troubles have nothing on a night out on the town — especially if your town is Las Vegas. It was a fabulous night!

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Lake Las Vegas’ Desert/Lake Oasis

Las VegasThe razzle-dazzle of the Strip often makes it easy to forget that we live in one of the states most devastated by the recession — and that we live in the desert. I was so excited to get out of town (even if it was only 20 minutes down the road!) last weekend, and I landed at the lovely Loews hotel at Lake Las Vegas. It was very beautiful and peaceful out there, and I can’t believe it was so close all this time. And I learned a lot about what happened to my state during the two years I was off and about, traveling and living abroad.

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An All-American … Castle?

New York, travelThe U.S. isn’t known for our historical castles — maybe because we don’t have any. Perhaps the closest we’ve got to offer is Oheka Castle on Long Island, NY, which was built as a private residence in the early 1900s. I spent a few days there at a company meeting and thought it was so beautiful that I snapped a few photos while I was supposed to be focusing on my upcoming presentation. Since we all know I have an enormous public speaking phobia, it wasn’t a rough decision to play hooky — at least for a few minutes!

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Do You Recognize This Man?

entertainment, Rod StewartSometimes in Vegas you go to work as usual, and by the afternoon you’re outside in the sweltering heat, standing around the over-the-top Garden of the Gods pool surrounded by ridiculous tourists waving paper fans. Don’t forget the people dressed in togas up on the balcony. It was a welcoming party fit for an icon! When Rod Stewart arrived, synchronized swimmers dove into the pool kicking up their legs as the song “Hot Legs” blared. They don’t call us Entertainment Capitol of the World for nothing!

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