Monthly Archives: February 2014

LA, Her Way: Jesse Draper of the Valley Girl Show

290Combining her love of business with her gift of gab, actress Jesse Draper started the Valley Girl Show in 2009. In the beginning, the Silicon Valley native filmed her talk show during six-month breaks from The Naked Brothers Band on Nickelodeon, but she now dedicates herself full-time to interviewing guests on theValley Girl Show and corresponding regularly on the Katie Couric Show.

Throughout the years, Draper has interviewed big names in fashion, technology, politics and food, including Rebecca Minkoff, former LA Mayor Dick Riordan and Mattel CEO Bob Eckert.  But while industry giants are on her radar, Draper’s real passion is in start-ups and female entrepreneurs.

We caught up with Draper between show tapings to chat about her favorite gadgets, start-ups and places to eat in LA.

Full name: Jesse Draper

City: Santa Monica

Occupation: Talk show host and technology expert

What do you love most about Santa Monica?

The weather. I don’t think you can beat the weather. I like Santa Monica because you can walk everywhere and lead a healthy lifestyle.

Where did the inspiration for the Valley Girl Show come from?

What I really love are start-ups and technology. My inspiration came from seeing these great entrepreneurs getting grilled about their money in the media instead of talking about their amazing accomplishments. I wanted to show the other side of the story because they are the most inspiring people out there.

What has been your best interview so far for the show?

They’re all so interesting because you never know what people are going to say. Jessica Alba was one of my favorites because I didn’t realize how involved she was with the Honest Company; she really is running the whole thing.

What local start-ups are you most excited about at the moment?

I think Tradesy is really going to blow up. With Fleapop, you can open your own flea market shop online. Milk and Honey lets you design your own shoes and Bouqs in Venice offers sustainable flowers grown on an active volcano.

Name a gadget that everyone in LA should have in their possession:

My favorite device right now is Epiphany Eyewear which let you take HD videos while you’re exploring LA. You need a good pair of sunglasses and they take hands-free videos you can share.

Where is a cool place to take an out-of-towner?

People come to LA to celeb spot and Beverly Hills is good for that, but I prefer to take people to the beach. Hermosa Beach is my favorite.

Where is your favorite place to grab a drink?

My girlfriends and I love margaritas so I like to go anywhere I can get a margarita. Mercado in Santa Monica has great margaritas.

What’s your favorite food truck and what do you like to order from it?

First Fridays in Venice are really fun because you can try a bunch of food trucks in one place. I can’t stop thinking about the lobster corn dog with chipotle aioli (from the Slummin’ Gourmet truck).

Describe your perfect Saturday:

Start the day off at Kreation Kafe. They have juices and amazing breakfast. I would take a hike and try to be outdoors as much as possible. If this is my perfect Saturday, I’d head to the beach, relax and grab a drink and eat oysters with friends at Sonoma Wine Garden.

Name an essential LA experience everyone should have at least once:

For a non-touristy dinner out, everyone should try Giorgio Baldi. You might see a celebrity, but it’s a really low-key spot with delicious homemade pasta. For an adventurous experience, everyone should take the Hollywood Hike. It’s really fun because you have to follow all these signs that say, “No trespassing.”

Finish this sentence: Los Angeles is… the most creative city in the world.

Originally published on LosAngeles.com.

10 Worst Things About Long Distance Relationships

4623ff8b01bac8e41ba42c1159537660Anyone who has ever been in a long distance relationship can agree: sometimes they are just plain horrible. Of course, they have their amazing moments, the ones no one would ever trade, but at times they are also gut-wrenchingly painful. Same city relationships have their hardships too, but they are different from the ones that long distance couples have to deal with. Even though the positives far outweigh the negatives and the love and time spent together make it all worth it, these are still the 10 worst things about being in an LDR:

1. No makeup loving after arguments.

Those moments when couples get down and dirty in the middle of a heated argument are not a possibility for long distance couples. Even after a drawn-out squabble which may last numerous phone calls and span the course of a couple of days, the most satisfaction an LDR couple can get is a simple, “I love you,” after it’s over.

2. You can’t help your significant other through crises.

If your loved one is going to school or working in a different city, they may have to cope with the stresses of exams, grades, performance reviews, and presentations. All of these tests carry with them the possibility of failure. It hurts knowing that your partner is going through a rough time and there’s not much you can do for them.

3. No hugs at the end of a long and stressful day.

Studies show that hugging on a daily basis releases stress-reducing oxytocin, boosts the immune system and battles depression. But what are you to do when your main squeeze is hours away? If you go from being able to see and hug your significant other every day to being far away, this obstacle is one of the hardest to deal with. Until you two can be reunited, seek out meaningful physical contact with friends, but make sure you don’t cross any boundaries.

4. Visits and travel are all very expensive.

Every long distance relationship has a different level of expense. The most expensive are international relationships because plane tickets and phone calls are much more costly than same-country LDRs. Even if you are in the same state as your beloved, you should be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on every trip. The best way to get through this hurdle is to split the cost. If the person travelling pays for their transportation, the one being visited can pay for meals and activities.

5. When your partner accidentally falls asleep before calling you and you call them a bunch of times, but they aren’t answering and don’t know where they are.

It’s very easy to get paranoid, worried, scared and distrustful in a long distance relationship. When you don’t hear from your partner for a day and don’t receive a good-night phone call before bed, your mind begins conjuring the worst possible scenario. Two of the biggest fears of people in long distance relationships are that their partner has been seriously injured and there’s no way to find out, and that their partner is cheating on them. Neither of these thoughts is comforting as you’re lying there, trying to fall asleep. The most probable explanations are that your boyfriend or girlfriend is busy hanging out with friends and they forgot to check their phone, something happened to their phone (maybe it ran out of battery) or they accidentally fell asleep while watching TV or a movie. The reality is usually not as bad as what you imagine.

6. Seeing people in happy relationships all around you, holding hands and doing couple-related activities, making you miss your significant other even more.

This also happens to single people who want to be in a relationship, but it’s more difficult for people who are in a relationship because they can’t do these activities with the person they love. The best way to combat the feelings of jealousy, yearning and loneliness is to call your significant other and tell them how you feel. Talking to your loved one about how much you missed them today when you saw a couple playing air hockey will make you feel closer than if you keep your feelings pent up and as a result, resent the fact that they’re not around.

7. Not having someone with whom to go to certain events.

Your favorite band is coming to town or there’s a chocolate festival on Saturday, but all of your friends are busy or not interested. (If you can’t find a friend interested in a chocolate festival, you have a whole new set of problems on your hands). For many people, their significant other is their go-to person for many fun-filled events. When you are in a long distance relationship, you should either have a lot of friends with varied interests, become comfortable with going to events alone, or plan an action-packed weekend of activities you have always wanted to try for when your partner comes to visit.

8. You can’t just stop by their place after work or between classes or meet up at happy hour.

In same city relationships, it’s so much easier to see each other. This may be an unnecessarily obvious observation, but not being able to hang out for an hour or two when you have time may be one of the most difficult aspects of being in a long distance relationship. The spontaneous visits and excursions comprise a major part of same city relationships and help you reconnect throughout the week before date night. You can create a similar effect by calling each other at lunch or Skyping with a glass of wine while you watch the same TV show.

9. Romance means getting an unexpected phone call first thing in the morning.

It goes without saying that same city romance is easier than long distance romance. For LDRs, there is a lot more planning involved to execute a large romantic gesture, like a surprise visit. For the most part, romance in a long distance relationship means an unexpected phone call when you wake up or a sweet text message you receive on your way to work. That is the simplest way to be romantic. If you want to get more creative, you can have flowers sent to your significant other or mail them a hand-written letter. For extra points, make them a video they can watch when you can’t be together.

10. Having an argument over what was said in a text message, online chat or email because tone is impossible to convey through writing and sometimes causes misunderstandings.

At some point in a long distance relationship, couples will decide to refrain from using Facebook chat or text messages to communicate unless it’s absolutely necessary. That’s because, after the umpteenth argument that occurs because someone didn’t know you were joking, takes your joke seriously and gets offended, you learn your lesson. It’s nearly impossible to convey tone through a quick written exchange. You may read something and take it in a completely different way than was intended. This is a natural and common situation in this day and age when sentences are typed at lightning speed and rarely proofread before getting sent. Even smiley faces and punctuation are open to interpretation. Save yourself the trouble and call instead.

Originally published on Examiner.com.

Chinese New Year Celebrations

chinese new yearThe history and culture of China is vibrantly weaved into the tapestry of Los Angeles life and can be experienced first-hand during the festivities of the Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, in LA’s Chinatown and other communities. Locals and tourists alike attend the events to partake in the colorful costumes, traditional music and intoxicating cuisines of Asian cultures to commemorate the end of a successful year and celebrate the luck and prosperity to come.

Jan. 24-25: Zoodiac Celebration aLos Angeles Zoo
The LA Zoo celebrates the Year of the Horse with its weekend-long Zoodiac event. In addition to a scavenger hunt, dragon and lion dances, themed treats and a Kung Fu demonstration, the event will offer educational talks and activities about animals that are closely related to the horse.

Jan. 25 and Feb. 22: Chinese Calligraphy and Brush Painting Classes at Pacific Asia Museum
As a major aspect of Chinese history, calligraphy and brush painting classes are held every Saturday at the Pacific Asia Museum. While this activity isn’t exclusive to the Lunar New Year, the holiday is a perfect excuse to learn a new artistic skill and carry on the creative practices of ancient Asia.

Feb. 1-2: 115th Golden Dragon Parade & Chinese New Year Festival at Chinatown
A long-standing Los Angeles tradition, the Golden Dragon Parade and Festival in Chinatown is as engraved in LA history as the holiday itself. For the 115th year in a row, the parade will bring the celebration to the streets with a live entertainment stage, cultural booths featuring candy making, clay portraiture and calligraphy, and over a dozen floats.

Feb. 2: The Great Chinatown Hunt at Chinatown
For those who prefer a more hands-on approach to celebrating the occasion, the Great Chinatown Hunt takes place alongside the Golden Dragon Parade and allows participants to explore the area in search of clues. Teams of two are sent all over Chinatown with hints that range from photographs to puzzles. The race may last up to seven hours and the first team to finish is crowned the winner with bragging rights and Internet recognition as their rewards.

Feb. 8: Chinese New Year in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive
Known as the city of success, Beverly Hills will spread its good fortune with the Year of the Horse Celebration. Several hotels in the area offer Chinese New Year packages for the month of February, such as the Hao Yun package at the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel, which includes a welcome of tea and fortune cookies in addition to a complimentary Asian breakfast of congee and dim sum. During the festival, guests can enjoy traditional lion dances and music. Everyone who attends will receive a red “Good Fortune” envelope filled with deals and coupons to local businesses to start the year off with a shopping spree. Rodeo Drive wouldn’t have it any other way.

Feb. 22-23: Firecracker 10K Run at Elysian Park
Named after the explosive that originated in China, the Firecracker 10K Run will start the Lunar New Year with a bang. Day 1 of the event features a 20- or 30-mile bike ride and the Nite and Day Festival with Vietnamese folk dancers, Japanese Taiko drummers and Chinese music ensembles. Early the next morning, runners embark on a 5K or 10K run followed by an awards ceremony and the second part of the Nite and Day Festival.

Originally published on LosAngeles.com.