hello & goodbye ojai

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less than 24 hours. that’s how long i was officially out of town this weekend, but you’d be surprised what you can pack in, sunset to sunset. L and i left san diego a hair past four and despite some gratuitous gridlock on the 5, we managed to arrive to the majestic mountain town close to our projected time of 7:30 p.m. we pulled up to the wisteria-covered abode and were instantly greeted by its owner -L’s bf’s aunt, who also played our gracious hostess for our stay, L’s bf, and maxine, his aunt’s sweet-natured pup. we threw down our bags and freshened up before heading into town for dinner. after almost four hours on the road (and some serious car karaoke), we were starving!

rare daily (weekend) outfit post.

rare daily (weekend) outfit post.

we dined at osteria monte grappa, a quaint italian restaurant with congenial staff and a mouth-watering menu. after perusing its pages for what seemed like hours, unable to elect just one dish for the night (there were so many to choose from!), we all arrived at our entree of choice. while the others had pasta (i mean, when in rome, duh), i opted for a pasta 2.0 (at least in my eyes) -roasted spaghetti squash with capers, garlic and olives. it was delicious, and though you shouldn’t have to even ask, i did, in fact, lick my plate clean. but this time, i wasn’t the only one. following our italian spread, we ventured over to the ojai valley inn for a night cap.

i’m not sure of your definition of a night cap, but ours included the inn’s miniature-sized version of a bj’s pazookie (warm chocolate chip cookies in a cast-iron skillet covered in a scoop of vanilla ice cream) and decaf cappuccinos all around. it was the perfect way to end our first night in the sleepy resort town. on our way out, i checked the perimeters for any celebs and/or celeb-looking individuals. there were a couple close calls, but my search turned up fruitless. we all agreed that we would return in the daytime the following morning to not only take in the beautiful scenery of the resort’s grounds, but so that i could continue my search. mrs. witherspoon toth, i would find you.

i awoke to the sound of bird chirping (but really, i did) as the light of day peered through the windows. though all four, er, five of us arose early, we lingered in the family room in our pajamas sipping our coffee and sharing in conversation until almost ten. when the pangs of hunger were too much to bear, we changed and headed back into town for brunch at bonnie lu’s -the sweetest little southern-inspired diner. we ate our standard breakfast fare of eggs, toast, bagels, fruit, and grits (for me!) to the sounds of a banjo and a fiddle (who has a live band at 10:30 a.m.? bonnie lu’s does, that’s who!) before exploring the town. first stop? the farmer’s market!

i mean, if i lived in ojai, i would totally come to this market weekly to stock up on fresh produce and supplies. the football field-length marketplace was a feast for the eyes, ears, nose, and taste buds  strawberries, avocados, fresh greens, oh my! bouquets of ranunculus and tulips in every shade of the rainbow lined the aisles and at the end of the market? a man with a sign that simply read: free hugs. though i was tempted, i refrained from taking him up on his offer. albeit creepy, the sentiment behind it was sweet.

after the visit through the market, we spent the next hour or so wandering in and out of antique and consignment stores before exploring the town’s infmous bart’s book store -an al fresco book boutique with offerings old and new and an “in good faith” purchasing policy after hours. when you approach the store, you’ll find that there are books lining the outside of the foundation as well as on the interior. if you would like to purchase a book after closing time, there is a little slot where you may place your money in exchange for your elected piece of literature. this concept probably only works in ojai, but that fact alone, made the whole thing all the more endearing. L and i found a nearly new paperback of bob goff’s love does which we’ll take turns reading (joint book custody!) and L’s bf (let’s call him M) added a biography about the kennedy’s to his growing book collection. following our scholarly field trip, we drove over to the ojai valley inn to admire its surroundings in the daylight (and for a second chance at a reese-sighting).

cutest little book shop ever.

cutest little book shop ever.

once in the confines of the property, everything just seems to slow down, as if to say, “don’t bother me, i’m relaxing”. i think they pump the smell of lavender and jasmine through the air ducts or something, just so guests feel more zen. but namaste aside, i’m really glad we decided to make a repeat visit to the inn because its charm and overall aesthetic certainly weren’t properly assessed by starlight the evening prior. besides, if we hadn’t taken a tour of the grounds, i would have never met my new best friend casper and i don’t want to live in a world where casper, the talking white parrot, is merely a stranger. apparently i was a bird whisperer in a former life, because despite all three of our efforts of getting casper to say parroty things like “polly, want a cracker?”, casper was most receptive to yours truly. actually, for a good two minutes or so, it felt like casper and i were the only two people (err, beings?) in the world. while he really didn’t say more than “hello” and another phrase that just sounded like jarbled nonsense, kind of like when you try to tell someone something when you’re in the middle of brushing your teeth, that conversation with casper will stay with me forever. also, casper’s and my connection is now kind of famous. unbeknownst to me, M snapped a photo of of the two of us during our exchange and instagrammed it, tagging the ojai valley inn’s instagram account in the process. a few hours later, they re-grammed the shot. it’s fine if you want my autograph.

courtyard at the inn (casper was right over my right shoulder as i took this pic).

courtyard at the inn (casper was right over my right shoulder as i took this pic).

speaking of autographs, or at least people who are famous enough to be asked for them (i.e. not me), after we finished up at the inn, we decided to head back into town for a little caffeinated libation. we stopped into the neighborhood coffee shop, ordered three iced coffees and found a table in the back. as i approached the counter to grab a straw, i saw a familiar bearded man in the corner sitting at a table with another man and two ladies. the four of them seemed to be enjoying each other’s company while they waited for their lunch to arrive. just as i pivoted to return to my seat, my mind finally finished processing the man’s facial-haired face… drum roll please…

it was john krasinski!

or as most people know him -jim from the office! the beard had thrown me off for a minute, but there was no denying that that adorable mug belonged to the television (and sometimes film) star. i tried to maintain composure as i all but ran back to my seat to inform L & M. the coffee shop was about as big as my living room so i knew i had to do my best at acting normal (good luck with that) if i wanted to avoid being removed from the premises for erratic behavior. further spying from my in-perfect-eye-line-to-john’s-face-position at the table revealed that the lady directly to the left of him was indeed his wife and movie star, emily blunt (who is just as pretty in person). this fact was further confirmed when emily herself took a jaunt across the room over to the coffee station directly behind me. i could have reached out and touched her she was so close. i refrained, of course, but i was definitely tempted (and egged on by M) to say the least. we watched them for a good twenty minutes, i contemplated taking a creep shot for instagram fame, but instead just opted to texting L, E & B who i all knew would appreciate said encounter. L googled them and found that apparently the couple had recently purchased a home in ojai -a love nest (as the article so adorably coined) if you will -as an escape from the city. so we had just caught them on a weekend break from hollywood, in their sunday comfies, on a double date with friends (it is important to note that the friends were not famous, at least, that’s what imdb told me). you know, being normal. as i saw how happy they were to be left undisturbed, i knew i couldn’t get all fangirl 2013 and accost them for a photo and autograph. but really, more than anything, i just wanted to utter a quote from the devil wears prada as emily passed by. like “i’m on this new diet, i don’t eat anything and then when i’m about to faint, i eat a piece of cheese.” i’ve always figured that if i were to in fact approach a celeb, i would lead in with a quote from one of their movies/tv shows. i feel like that’s more of an endearing way to go as opposed to “OMG, i LOVE YOU!” side note: back in college, i saw chandler bing matthew perry eating breakfast in malibu once and it literally took everything in me to not go up to his table, pop into a lunge position and utter, “could i BE wearing anymore clothes?” i realize this quote was actually made famous by joey, but i feel like the chandler in him would have appreciate it nonetheless.

emily & (clean-shaven) john.

emily & (clean-shaven) john.

and this is why i should never be allowed to work at e! or in any other profession that would require me to interact with celebs on a daily basis. i obviously wouldn’t know how to behave in their direct company.

as the afternoon hours ticked by, we decided to say farewell to the downtown area and return to M’s aunt’s house. on our way back up the mountain, we made sure to get out to snap a few obligatory “we’re in ojai, just look at this sign that says so” shots. as cheesy as it was, i’m pretty glad we did this.

standard solo shot (for mom).

standard solo shot (for mom).

L & me in ojai valley (photo credit: M).

L & me in ojai valley (photo credit: M).

the last moments of our mini vacay were spent on the couch, flipping between baseball and basketball and dozing in and out of consciousness. when the hour finally reached four, we figured we’d better begin our journey homeward before the sunday traffic got too bad. so we loaded up the cars, said our goodbyes, and were on the open road soon thereafter. turns out, we didn’t beat much of any traffic, but still managed to pull into the san diego county lines a few minutes after sunset. L, M & i capped off our time together over a dinner of teriyaki bowls and sushi before finally bidding each other adieu at the same lot L had pick me up at a mere 24 hours prior.

and just like that, we were back to reality. back to suburban life and to monday’s pending arrival. as i pulled into my garage minutes later, unpacked my suitcase, and changed into my pajamas, i reflected over the whirlwind of an adventure the weekend had been. sure, it may seem silly to leave town late on a saturday afternoon, only to return the following night. but we managed to pack a lot into our time away. and not only that, in taking this getaway with L and M, i was able to realize not only how awesome of a couple they are in their own right, but how blessed i am to call them both friends. traveling with people can be tricky, i’ve learned, especially ones who you haven’t known for a prolonged period of time. but if you plan it just right (or just get lucky), it can be one of the best things ever.

this was one of those times. L, if you’re reading this (which i think you are), thanks so much again for everything. you are a gem among gems and i love you to the moon.

p.s. if you still don’t know anything about ojai, just watch easy A, they filmed the entire movie in town. also, you should just watch that movie because it’s awesome and emma stone is my hero. the end.

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