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A Tour of the Hollywood Pantages Theater 

If you are an avid reader of my blog (hi Mom!) then you already know this about me, but if not, I’ll fill you in on a not-so-well-kept-because-it’s-totally-not-a-secret secret: I sometimes still long for a career in the theater. I have had a love affair with theater, musicals especially, since I was six years old and saw Phantom of the Opera for the first time (note: not a show I would recommend for most kid’s first musical theater experience, but clearly it worked for me). I spent most of my high school and college years working in the theater, and though I learned early on that I wasn’t really willing to make the sacrifices necessary for a career in theater (I like a steady paycheck and health benefits and all that…neither of which I have right now…) there has never been a time in my adult life when theater wasn’t a part of it. A few years ago I started to take advantage of the flexible season ticket packages and deals and sales offered by the Pantages theater in Hollywood, and two years ago I became a full fledged season ticket holder (necessary for this season in particular because Hamilton) and it is honestly one of the best things I have done for myself. Not only does it usually save me money over buying individual tickets to the shows I want to see, but the Pantages occasionally offers some cool perks for season ticket holders, like meet ups and backstage tours. Also, it forces Matt and me to go on a date every once in a while, which is all kinds of good.

A few months ago season ticket holders were invited to an open house and backstage tour, and while it wasn’t my first time going onstage and backstage at the theater, it was one of the cooler times since season ticket holders kind of had free rein and were able to wander wherever our hearts desired (except the orchestra pit, which was up at the time). Whether you are a theater lover or not, the Pantages is an awesome place to visit because it is full of Hollywood history. The theater began as a vaudeville house, opening its doors for the first time in 1930. It was the home of the Oscars for ten years before taking on many different lives as a movie theater and a live performance venue. In 2000, the Panatages underwent a huge multi-million dollar renovation and it has since been home to some of LA’s most successful productions including The Lion King, Wicked, and Book of Mormon. In August, the Panatges will welcome the first national tour of Hamilton for a limited run. It’s definitely my favorite LA theater and definitely a place everyone should visit.

Enough history, on to the fun stuff! Here are some of my favorite architectural details at the Pantages:

This is the front entrance of the theater…

This is inside the waiting area of the ladies room. I am obsessed with this bathroom…

This is the ceiling inside the main theater, which is absolutely breathtaking…

Inside the incredible lobby. If you are visiting for the first time, make sure you arrive early so you can spend some time looking around the inside of the theater!

This is a framed medicine cabinet that is hanging in one of the backstage dressing rooms. It’s tradition for touring actors to sign the medicine cabinet while they are performing at the Pantages. The most notable names on here are Megan Hilty (from the tour of Wicked) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame, signed when he was touring with In the Heights).

This area is in one of the backstage corners and it lists all the productions of the theater’s longtime technical director. As you can see, the Pantages has been home to some pretty stellar productions.

I recently renewed my season tickets at the Pantages for next year, and I am so excited to see what the new season has in store for us. I am particularly excited about Waitress and Aladdin (not so excited about Love Never Dies, but you get what you get). I hope I have the opportunity to remain a season ticket holder for many years to come. I always leave the theater feeling inspired and ready to create. Are you a musical theater fan? What is your favorite show?

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What I Read: April

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April was a pretty solid month for reading. I finished one awesome series and started another one and read some other great novels in between. And I managed to exceed my goal of five books per month. So go me! Here’s what I read in April:

Ten Thousand Skies Above You and A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray: I read the first book in this series last month and really enjoyed it. It’s definitely more sci-fi based than I usually read, but Gray created such a cool world, and such relatable characters that I really got into it. I read all three books within the span of about two weeks and I wanted more! I will be seeking out more books by Gray (who has also written some Star Wars tie-in novels) because I loved her writing style. I even learned some stuff about physics!

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty: So I have read a couple of Moriarty’s books in recent months and absolutely loved them. I had high expectations for Truly Madly Guilty, and I don’t know that they were met. It took me a long time to get into this book, I didn’t have the immediate connection to the characters that I’ve had in her other books. Also, the whole toddler incident hit a little too close to home for me, and some moments were hard for me to read. But even without that personal aspect, I don’t feel like this one was as good as The Husband’s Secret or Big Little Lies. Still a good read, just not as good as I have come to expect from Moriarty.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab: So this book was in an Owl Crate box a long time ago and I’ve just never got around to reading it. I liked it, though it took me a while to really get into it. The concept was intriguing and I was a fan of the whole Romeo and Juliet kind of spin on the relationship between Kate and August. I don’t know that I’ll run right out for the next book, but I could definitely see myself picking it up at some point. It was a little more gruesome than I like, but I liked the two main characters so much that it kind of made up for the gore.

 

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: I was kind of eh about this one. I love the idea of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I didn’t love this one. I think my main issue was that I didn’t like either of the main characters. Both were kind of annoying, along with being not super nice people, so it made it hard for me to care about what happened to them. I liked the concept, but found the execution lacking.

Legend by Marie Lu: I really enjoyed this first book in the Legend series. I was recommended Legend by a friend of mine who is a librarian since it is loosely based on Les Mis, which I love, and also because I am working on a retelling of my own. If I hadn’t know it going in, I’m not sure I would have picked up on the Les Mis notes in this, but I think I would have enjoyed it all the same. I love the world that Lu has created, and again, the two main characters are relatable and likeable. I already ordered the second book in the series, so that should tell you something about how much I enjoyed the first one. I also got to here Marie Lu speak at YallWest this past weekend and it was really cool listening to her thoughts on dystopian YA lit.

All in all, April was a great month of reading. I have a seriously long TBR for the next couple of months and I don’t know how I am going to make the time to finish all the books I want to read. But I’m sure I will find a way! What are you currently reading?


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Life Right Now

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Hello friends and welcome to another edition of Life Right Now. I haven’t done a Life Right Now post in a long time, and well, there’s a lot going on these days, so I figured I would share some updates! Things have been crazy, in a good way, and I am about a week away from wedding madness season, so life is about to get interesting (and tiring, but again, in a good way). Here’s the happs:




Making bookmarks! I may or may not be obsessed with these watercolor bookmarks.
Drinking Corona Light and lots of Chardonnay. Also lots of Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brews.
Reading so. many. amazing. books. Seriously guys, I am on fire with the YA reading and it’s so good. Some recent faves are Legend, the Firebird series, and Caraval.
Wanting to finish my YA novel!
Playing Hamilton! Four and a half months until I get to see it again!


Wishing there were about six more hours in the day.
Enjoying the new season of Southern Charm. Minus Landon.
Waiting for A Court of Wings and Ruin to come out so I can start the series.
Liking our new living room set up (the key was hiding Matt’s instruments and Squirt’s toys).
Wondering if I am going to be able to find a literary agent this year.
Loving the inspiration from the LA Times Festival of Books and YallWest.
Hoping my YA book gets published!
Needing some sleep. As always.
Wearing shorts and tees and flip flops. Welcome to summer!


Following lots of pretty bookstagram accounts, find mine @coffeebookswinerepeat!
Noticing why the term “threenager” was coined.
Knowing that summer is going to be crazy busy!
Thinking about my next contemporary romance book.
Anticipating lots of long, hot days coming soon!
Celebrating the publication of my first contemporary romance novel! Buy it here!
Laughing at Squirt (as usual). His personality is really coming out these days and he is constantly amusing me.
Feeling happy, excited, hopeful, and accomplished.



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Owl Crate Subscription Box: April

Well book friends, it’s hard to believe, but May is already here. How the eff did that happen? That means it’s time to take a look at this past month’s Owl Crate box. I was super excited about the Head Over Heels theme, and though this box didn’t turn out to be as girly as I had expected, it still turned out to be a super cute box. Here’s what I got this month:

This Pride and Prejudice headband from Storiarts is adorable. I don’t think I’m nearly cool enough to pull it off, and since my Disney bestie Brianna is a big Austen fan, I’ll be passing it along to her. My Levi and Cath (from Fangirl) candle from Novelly Yours smells so freakin good! Coffee and chocolate are two of my favorite things ever, and pumpkin is such a great scent for candles, this was probably my favorite item from this month’s box. This keychain from Bookworm Boutique is cute, but I actually haven’t read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, so I need to get on that before I tote around the keychain.

I am supes excited about this month’s book, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. I legit had it in my hands at the bookstore a week or so ago, but I was good and put it down (my TBR is out. of. control.) and then a couple days later, found it inside my Owl Crate! It was obviously meant to be.

I’m planning on starting A Court of Thorns and Roses in May, and this beautiful print from Evie Bookish has me stoked for it. And I can’t wait to drink this chocolate (!!!) tea from The Tea Spot. Yes please.

Overall, a very cute box this month! The theme for the May box is Comic Explosion. I’m not a huge comic fan, but I have embraced Marvel thanks to Disney so hopefully I’ll find some cool stuff in the box that I can connect with. If you are interested in checking out Owl Crate for yourself (and if you haven’t picked up on the fact that it’s awesome yet, please go back and read all of my OC posts!) please use my referral link and help me earn some free boxes! Thanks friends!


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LA Times Festival of Books

On Sunday, I had the pleasure and privilege of volunteering at the annual LA Times Festival of Books. I am ashamed to say that I had never even been to the festival before, but I don’t think I will be missing it ever again because it was so awesome. When I arrived for my volunteer check-in, I was assigned to book signings, and since I was there early, I got to choose which area I wanted to work in. I obviously chose the Young Adult signings booth, which was luckily right next to the YA Stage. During my four hour shift, I got to listen to three different panel discussions with some of the top YA authors, including Melissa de la Cruz, Morgan Matson, and Shannon Hale.

After each discussion, the authors came over for book signings, and I was literally standing right behind them the entire time. Listening to the conversations the authors got to have with their fans was so inspiring. I teared up several times throughout the day (seriously, I don’t know how the authors kept it together) hearing these teens talk about how much books mean to them. I don’t know if I can actually put into words the effect the whole experience had on me as an aspiring YA author.

After my shift ended, I headed over to one of the lecture halls on USC’s campus for a panel discussion with four of the top YA authors: Jennifer Niven, Nicola Yoon, Angie Thomas, and Nina LaCour. I reviewed Niven’s first YA book, All the Bright Places, here on the blog, and I also absolutely loved Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star. I have books from the other authors on my TBR list. It was incredible to hear four amazing female authors talk about everything from their writing process to their inspiration and research to the craziest thing they did as teenagers. The panel was absolutely awe-inspiring and I am so glad that I was able to attend.

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I of course focused on the YA booths and event happening at the festival, but every genre of book was well-represented. There was a great kids section, along with horror, romance, mystery, basically everything you could ever want from a book festival. If you are in the LA area, I would highly recommend attending the LA Times Festival of Books if you can because it was an amazing and inspiring day!


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scum and villainy cantina

The Scum and Villainy Cantina

Several months ago, an event popped up in my Facebook feed, advertising a Star Wars themed pop up bar in Hollywood called the Scum and Villainy Cantina. I immediately went online and bought tickets and then promptly forgot about it until a few weeks ago when reservations for the bar opened up. Matt and I decided to go to SVC during his spring break, so we chose a Wednesday evening at 6:00. Each ticket came with two drink tokens, a souvenir glass and a souvenir coin, along with access to the bar for two hours (which was plenty of time).

We arrived to the “secret” (not so much anymore) location about a half an hour before our reservation, and found a parking spot on Cahuenga immediately. If you have ever tried to park in Hollywood, you know how next to impossible that is. We were the second group in line, so we could have gotten there later and been fine, but I always prefer to be early. About fifteen minutes before our entrance time, we were checked in and given our two drink tokens. We were let into the bar right at 6:00.

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Inside was dark and foggy (and terrible for taking pictures). There wasn’t a ton of decoration, per se, it was really more like we had actually walked into a bar in space. The music was eclectic and nerdy–I mean, they played the Flash Gordon theme song by Queen so I had no complaints about that. In general, I thought they captured the atmosphere of a space cantina pretty well. We grabbed two seats at the bar and cashed in our first tokens. Tokens were only good for specialty cocktails or  beer, but they did also have a full bar. First I tried the Big Bang. All of the cocktails came with a glowstick in them.

With my second token I tried the Dark Side of the Moon. Both of the cocktails were fine. Neither was so amazing that I would order them again, but they were both tasty and seemed to have a decent amount of alcohol.

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The best part about being at SVC was the people watching. A lot of people (most, really) came in costume and everyone was willing to pose for pictures, which was fun for us since we didn’t dress up. We saw some really cool outfits.

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Matt totally photo bombed my Stormtrooper selfie.

scum and villainy cantina

About a half an hour before our time was over, the big guy came out. It was fun to see the Stormtroopers (who were guests at the bar) immediately flock to his side and flank him as he walked around the bar.

scum and villainy cantina

Matt and I had a really fun time hanging out at the Scum and Villainy Cantina. We didn’t try any of the food since it all seemed pretty generic (we hit up In N Out on the way home, which is really the only way to do it), but we enjoyed the drinks. The prices for the other drinks at the bar seemed pretty on par with most of Hollywood, and while tickets for the bar were a little steep (I think we paid $50 per ticket), I found the whole experience to be worth what we paid.

As far as I know, there are no more reservations available for SVC, but they do have some walk up spots available. I would check their website and/or social media channels for the latest updates on accommodating walk ups. If you are a Star Wars fan in the So Cal area, I would 100% recommend checking out the experience. It was definitely a fun and nerdtastic experience!

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diy watercolor bookmarks

DIY: Watercolor Bookmarks

Since so much of my life has been consumed with books these days–reading, writing, reviewing, Instagramming–it’s only fitting that I become obsessed with bookmarks. When I was younger and had a significantly better memory, I never used bookmarks because I could just remember what chapter or page I left off on (seriously, how was that a thing I could do?). But now I am old. And I have one or two billion other things on my mind. And I refuse to fold down the pages of my books. So bookmarks it is! I’ve started quite a collection, and while some of my favorites are the free ones from bookstores, I have also been buying some cute ones on Etsy. Which of course, led me to the idea to make some for myself. And I found out how easy it is to make some super cute bookmarks with just a few supplies. I love how they turned out and I can’t wait to make more!

First, I printed out some designs on white cardstock. When I do this project again, I will use paper that is thicker than standard cardstock so the bookmarks have a little more weight. These were super easy to design in Word, I just made a text box the size I wanted and then typed in some fun book-themed phrases. I suck at cutting a straight line so I used my paper cutter, but you could just cut out the rectangles with scissors if you are cool like that.

I let the printer ink dry for a little while to make sure it didn’t smear. In the meantime I set up my watercolors. I used a simple Crayola set that had all the colors I wanted. I had some extra brushes ready but I really only used the one that came with the set. I also had some mini cups of water ready and paper towels on hand for clean up and brush wiping.

diy watercolor bookmarks

I waited about an hour after printing the bookmarks from my computer before I started the painting, which was plenty of time. I chose to do a couple of different color combos and kept two of the bookmarks one color. I have to say that the rainbow one is probably my favorite.

diy water color bookmarks

I let the bookmarks dry overnight and then I took a black Sharpie and went over some of the lettering that had faded from the paint. I also put them under some hardback books for a few hours so they flattened out a little since the paint made the edges curl up a bit. This is the final product…

diy watercolor bookmarks

I love how these came out and I will definitely be making some more in the future. What book quotes or phrases do you like? Give me some idea so I have some for my next round! And make sure you follow my bookstagram account, @coffeebookswinerepeat!


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