Celebrating 24 | From San Francisco to Santa Monica

Welcome to the Bae Area

(Four)eeeeeeever young, I want to be (four)ever young...

Whenever someone in my age bracket -- *cough* my best friends included -- says we're getting old, I immediately give them a "bish whet?"-esque reaction and cue up "Forever Young" in my head. Thinking young is not an excuse to treat my 20s as a carefree continuation of undergrad, but a motto to remember that age is what you make of it. If I had my headphones with me today, I'd be playing that song (Jay-Z’s version, of course) right now, because it's perched up in my mind. But I forgot my headphones today, and that always sucks. Womp.

What doesn't suck? Birthdays. The special day/week/month (hey, if you've got it in you to carry on all month long, more power to ya) when we get to celebrate life and be justified in doing whatever the hell we want to do. Ya know...live life like a video, where the sun’s always out and you never get old and the champagne’s always cold and the music’s always good. If you ain’t living like this on a regular basis (#goals) then you owe it to yourself to at least use your birthday as a reason to do so!

-- My sincerest non-apologies for the ungodly amount of pictures of myself here. Who do I think I am!? But remember guys: birthday. --

Posing with purple | San Francisco Telegraph Hill district

At 24 years young, I refuse to give into "we graduated high school a whole 5 years ago, we're grandmas" syndrome (yes this is actually a thing). I'm feeling energized by all that lay ahead. I've got six more years to enjoy my twenties, to make magic happen, and to tiptoe gracefully between adulthood and being a youngin' as I deem fit. I'm thrilled to have discovered a means of achieving my passion while I've got this youth and energy, and overall I'm enthusiastic about all that I've got to learn. Youth is a beautiful thing, but amazing things do happen as you get older, I hear.  

Since my birthday fell smack dab in the middle of the week on a Wednesday (January 21st, to be exact), I decided to use both bookending weekends to celebrate, after emerging from my half-lazy half-budget-conscious inactivity of planning anything.

At first, I felt fine with just kicking it, dining at a nice restaurant for my birthday, and recalling memories of my birthday party last year in DC to float on. That party was perfect, simply for the fact that I had SO many of the people I've shared priceless times with in high school and college all there in one place. Mom's bangin' pasta, a well stocked bottle selection, and the drunken game playing festivities were just the icing on the bday cake. Le lituation was legit.

I haven't been in LA long enough to build those type of solid friendships and connections, so I wasn't as gung-ho about having another party. Plus, I've got this move abroad that sets up shop at the top of my mind daily and all I really want to do is keep my coins in pocket for funding my migration, business ventures and travel.

Then the lightbulb clicked. Not only was the boo flying back in town for my birthday, but I mean it IS (well, was) my very first birthday in LA. How could I not celebrate the first year I don't have to worry about whether I'll be snowed in on my birthday? How could I not grab my lovely Los Angeles ladies and have an LA style evening out? How could I not hit the town every day while here with bae? These are things you don't NOT do. (And the chorus sings: Duhhhh. As if.)

Thus, the plans unfolded.

Before I realized my company does not observe the MLK holiday off (shame), I planned a stateside getaway up north to San Francisco over the long weekend. I've always heard great things about SF, especially from both my parents (besides that one time my dad got caught in the big earthquake of '89 -- he’s been scared to go back ever since but don’t tell him I told you), and it's one of the few major US cities I had not yet stepped foot in. I was dying to visit at least once.

Now after that first jaunt, I both saw and missed seeing more than enough to know it's a must to return again. I loved San Francisco! The best way I can think to describe the city is unapologetically eclectic. It's colorful and vibrant and busy, with more than enough seaside scenes to totally bliss out on views -- EXACTLY how I prefer my cities. There's definitely a lot more coming from my touristy weekend in San Fran in my next post.

Golden Gate view from Fort Point

Fisherman's Wharf... more San Fran landmarks

Back in LA on my actual DOB, I enjoyed an artistic evening of Paint Nite with Launte in one of the restaurants at The Grove. Our first Paint Nite date night back in Maryland over the holidays was fun enough to beckon us back for another round, but my painting? Let's just say I wasn't upset when I left it behind back home. Our second time around however, I was much more pleased with my final product! Painting is not easy by any means, but it is certainly fun to play around with -- thank goodness for beginner tutorials and bomb-for-business ideas like Paint Nite (seriously, I think this is one of the best organized activities ever).

How'd I do?

Presenting... "Under the Willow Tree"


Birthday makeup, courtesy of my roomie

Supposed to have been painting, but that lighting!

The week of my birthday also kicked off LA’s Restaurant Week (DineLA), so we picked one of the participating restaurant right there in the Grove where our painting session was.

Bar Verde, attached to Nordstrom, was our lucky winner and a delicious choice. It offered a tantalizing $30/person selection of an appetizer, entree, and dessert (1 or 3 each) chosen for DineLA. Our chicken lettuce wraps and my roasted chicken dishes were especially fabulous!

Blueberry lavender martini 

Grilled salmon filet

Sea salt caramel cheesecake

Szechuan chicken lettuce wrap

Pan roasted chicken

Chocolate mousse cake

Bar Verde interior. (Nordstrom was closed.) (we sat in a booth.) (there were only like 5 people there at the time.) (they have outdoor balcony seating too but it was mad chilly.) (I know you care.)

After toting Te around any and everywhere around town we could manage, my celebratory festivities came to a finale with a cute Santa Monica Sunday evening. In honor of the most special of occasions (just go with it), I wanted to combine my love of rooftops, ocean views, sunset witnessing, and good company. So, I picked Suite 700, the Hotel ShangriLa's rooftop restaurant and bar, despite its overpriced menu items, because it was a chic venue that would perfectly encompass the aforementioned #ThingsKristenIsObsessedWith.

Suite 700 did not fail to impress us with its views! And I was so happy to share them with my west side girlfriends (and the bf -- he prefers cash but I'm opting for sending e-props his way for holding it down as our photographer). I'm so grateful to know these incredibly driven and down to earth women, and amazed that they've come into my life in such a myriad of ways - from fellow Maryland friends turned Angelenos, to becoming good friends with another through the Roommates app (even though we never became roomies), to even reconnecting with one a whole year and a half later after meeting her alllllll the way in Spain on my Barcelona bike tour!

The 70something degree temps and the picturesque sunset deserve all the praises for showing out for us. I’ve never before had the pleasure of enjoying my birthday in such a divine physical environment. Bruh, a bodycon dress, outdoors? With no tights, no scarves, no Olivia Pope coat? FLEEKED for real.  

Finally, the night rounded out with a little miniature golf at Sherman Oak's Castle Park. Fun, fun, fun.

I battled a cold throughout the entire week (sadly it took over just before San Fran), but needless to say, all was swell. My Kobe year unveiled itself with a warm welcome! I owe that in large part to Te for coming in town for such a substantial amount of time, and for doing SO MUCH to make sure I had an excellent birthday. He’s the MVP.

Cheers to 24!

Santa Monica Pier and sunset view from Suite 700 Rooftop Bar

*Stolen from Launte's iphone captures*

"One time for my LA sistas"

"One time for my LA sistas"

How do you want to celebrate your birthday this year?

Kristen Noelle

I consider myself a softly eccentric urbanista. I’m quiet by nature, and I’ve generally always had a mellow laid-back vibe. However, when it comes to my preferences for fun, my style, and my overall thought process, I get a bit more eccentric. I like stepping out of the box of normalcy -- but without forcing anything. I’m a thrill junkie and I live for things that get my adrenaline pumping, such as riding on top of party buses in New York City and hanging off of skyscrapers in Vegas. I spring for bold hues, colorful prints and patterns, and a relaxed look that gives effortless-chic. I like exploring new places and capturing exciting sites. I’m a creative, with a million different ideas running through my mind each day. Whether I’m designing waistbeads, imagining up new clothing concepts, envisioning my next business venture, or planning my next adventure abroad, I’m always thinking of how I can create something great. Being raised in the suburbs but not far from the city and constantly traveling, I developed a love for the best of worlds. The calm and the crazy. The easy-going and the always-buzzing. The soft and the eccentric.