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Leslie's List: Lentils and Tigers and Beers (oh my)

The best things to eat, do, and read this week.
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This to-do list is culled directly from my own calendar and interests. Most everything on the list can be done no matter where you live, but because I live in L.A., my "Do" each week will spotlight a unique L.A.-based event or activity. If you're inspired by any of these tips or have some of your own to add, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below! Enjoy!

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Driving home from Northern California this past weekend, my boyfriend and I made a spontaneous stop at a large cat sanctuary in a town along Highway 5 called The Cat House, about an hour outside of L.A. The sanctuary is relatively small, but unlike zoos which can have large moats between visitors and animals, there were only a few feet separating us from the cages with mountain lions, jaguars, tigers, and ocelots. As I walked around, I couldn't believe there weren't more people—it's a gem of a place. We're even considering returning for an event they're holding this Saturday evening. They're keeping the park open late so guests can see the nocturnal cats when they're most active. If you can't make it this weekend, I highly recommend you bring a picnic and visit during the day—they're open every day but Wednesday. You can find more details on their events here.

Some other things worth checking out in L.A. this week: National Drink Day (aka the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition) is on Monday so several bars around town are offering $1 drinks from 5 to 7 PM, the San Francisco-based store Modern Citizen has a popup in DTLA and is hosting a happy hour with a different fashion company founder every week starting with Janessa Leoné this Thursday, and the nursery Rolling Greens has a happy hour and ornament-painting workshop this Friday for $25. Too many fun things!

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It's been cold in L.A. (okay, not as bad as New York, but still) so all I want to eat are warm and satisfying meals. Lately, I've been on a lentil soup kick since it's easy and delicious—you can make an enormous batch of it with whatever vegetables you have on hand (I always follow this guide), then mix up how you serve it so it doesn't get boring (.ie., with a toasted baguette, over rice, with sausage), and throw it into a mason jar to bring for lunch. So simple and affordable. 

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I could spend hours in a news stand—they're living proof that print isn't (quite) dead, with new boutique magazines popping up seemingly every time I visit one. This week, I came across a new travel magazine called Suitcase that I immediately fell in love with. It has beautiful photography more reminiscent of a fashion editorial than a Travel and Leisure spread and cool, curated travel guides from local bands and celebrities. Subscriptions are available here but you can also download their app for free.


HBO has really been killing the game with its programming recently, which is good news since I'll need something to ease the pain of losing Westworld after its season finale this Sunday (does anyone have any idea what's going on?). I recently started watching Insecure thanks to Megan and Renee's suggestions in the comments of my first list and it is so funny and smart—the conversations between best friends Molly and Issa are spot-on—I highly recommend it as well as the soundtrack to the show, which is available on Spotify.


Over the past few weeks, I've been looking for some comedic relief on my drives home, which is how I finally found myself listening to the podcast, "The Worst Idea of All Time." The premise for the show is hilarious: Two New Zealand comedians commit to watching the movie Grown Ups 2 once a week for an entire year, then record themselves talking about it each time (in their second season, they move on to Sex and the City 2). Over the course of their experiment, their conversations start as a joke, then unravel as they're driven crazy by the movie. Honestly, I just admire their commitment. 


Making beer is one of the best holiday, cold-weather activities. Hear me out: It's an investment the first time around (a kit including buckets and ingredients can cost around $70), but once you're all set up with the right tools and a good guide (full disclosure, I wrote this one at my past job!), it's a fun and rewarding activity to do with a small group. It only takes an afternoon (about three hours), it has time built-in to take breaks (like playing a card game), it gets you moving without having to the leave the house (and can warm up a small apartment), you can bake cookies from the used grain (also called "spelt"), and, most importantly, you'll have about 50 bottles of home brew within a month or so. 

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