Monday, August 6, 2012

Travel Around the World Without Ever Leaving L.A.

Keeping up with the Olympic spirit, one of team USA fiercest competitors is China. As the two teams learn the others strengths and weaknesses in their battle for the gold, this week we will learn about the flavors in the cuisine and the vivacity of the culture in China.

Many of you are tired of the quick and easy Panda Express, Pick up Sticks and even P.F. Changs. I know I am. So here is a place I have been going to with my family for years and though it is a little bit out of the way, the food is well worth the drive. Silver Panda in Chatsworth is a small family owned restaurant that never fails to serve what I believe to be the best Chinese food in the Valley. From their spicy hot and sour soup to their freshly made rice and crunchy sesame chicken, anyone can find a dish to their liking here. They serve the dishes we are all familiar with- orange chicken, beef and broccoli, imperial shrimp and sweet and sour pork- but with a twist that is exclusive to Silver Panda. Aside from the mouthwatering meals, the hospitality there is truly warm. The waiters always have a bright smile on their faces and whenever you see them; you can’t help but smile yourself. This is a fantastic place to go with the family because the atmosphere of the restaurant makes you feel as if you are in your own home. This cozy feeling is what truly puts this family owned business over the top.

Aside from food, China is well known for its rich and colorful traditions and customs, many of which are exhibited and continued in America. Here are just a few of the cultural events you can be a part of in L.A.:

The Chinese American Museum is the perfect place to go to learn everything about China’s vast history, from the ancient times to modern day. There is currently a wonderful exhibition about Chinese architecture and how it has evolved over the centuries and how it impacts modern day architectural styles. In addition, the museum is connected to Chinatown and is working on a project called “Constructing Chinatown,” which brings local artists together to make new statement art. It strives to change the assumptions many have about Chinatown and re-invent a new and more genuine perspective for many.

Speaking of Chinatown, this is the best place to visit to experience all aspects of China- food, culture and entertainment. There is a weekly farmers market where you can buy authentic Chinese ingredients, from soy sauce to bok choy, and numerous delicacies. In addition, you can browse through art galleries displaying traditional Chinese art and shop among the hundreds of boutiques. Chinatown has many annual festivals and shows, one of the most famous being the Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-autumn festival, which occurs in September. Though this is still a ways off, the people are already starting to prepare for this grand occasion.

Lastly, in our own L.A. zoo, there is now an “Elephants of Asia” exhibit and show. There is a new elephant plaza where statues of the majestic animal decorate beautiful Chinese botanical gardens, which pave the way to a beautiful deep-water pool. This new exhibit not only brings more attention to the need for preservation of this endangered species but also, highlights the artistic and cultural aspects of China.

Just like we have taken traditional Chinese dishes and blended and “Americanized” them, both nations come together to celebrate the competitiveness, honor and friendship that the Olympics arouse. Keep watching to see who will come out on top this year and enjoy the games!

Love, Life & Literature

Coming Home

Danielle Alakija, Westlake local, can now call herself an Olympian. Just two days ago on August 3, she competed in round one of the Women’s 400m, finishing sixth for the Fiji track and field team with a time of 56.77. Though she did not qualify for the next round, Danielle can certainly feel proud of herself for competing at the Olympics, a place so many athletes work towards but rarely reach. Her achievement is especially remarkable considering she is only sixteen years old and among the very youngest competitors at the Games. You may be wondering what a young lady currently living in Westlake Village is doing running for Fiji, a country thousands of miles away. Before making the move to SoCal, Danielle and her family lived in Fiji for fourteen years! And in what seems like a story line that could only come from fiction, Ms. Alakija was actually born in the same city in which she just made her Olympic debut, London. It’s as if Danielle’s destiny came full circle as she returned to the place she first entered into this world to give her very first performance in the Olympic Games. Congrats, Danielle, and we certainly anticipate your return to the track in 2016!

--Bailee Ahern

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Watch out Lululemon there's a new sheriff in town. Australian workout clothing store, Lorna Jane, has moved into Westlake's local hotspot The Promenade. Loren Jane Clarkson is the founder of the stylish lifestyle clothing line. She started off as a dentist's assistant teaching aerobics classes on the weekends. It was always important to her to look stylish and fabulous while she worked out and was never satisfied with exercise clothing. To fix the issue she took an old swim suit fabric and created her own outfits. Women at the gym stared in awe of her fashion forward clothing and wanted some in their own closets. She started making more and more, eventually opening her first store in 1993. The clothes consist of bright colored sports bras, patterned leggings and motivational graphic tees. Some that read: "love the skin you're in" or "strength, confidence, courage." Knowing all you Westlake women out there who care about your health and are taking kickboxing, yoga, p 90x etc. These new designs are fashionable, comfortable and versatile. Not only can you go workout in them you can go grocery shopping, to coffee with friends or just running errands around town. Go stop in and check out the new store!!