I don't know if it's a good thing that I've gotten used to driving 30-45 minutes to get coffee or a bite to eat, or if it's just sad...but sometimes, it's just nice to go somewhere local. In the past 5-10 years, Downtown Los Angeles has seen an incredible revitalization.

Cafes, coffee shops, and amazing restaurants keep popping up, and with so many new places to discover, it's hard to know where to start. That's why I recruited my mom to spend a day Downtown. She's not much of a city gal, though...her walking pace is super slow and she's not that great at finding street parking. I think she had fun, though, when I wasn't asking her to abstain from drinking her 10-shot juice sampler until I finished taking pictures of it.

After searching, in vain, for street parking, we settled for an $18 flat rate public parking structure. Gotta love the city. We made our way to

Verve Coffee

, a spot known for its signature plant-covered outdoor patio. I'd dare to compare it to a hipster Rainforest Cafe...but without the waterfall sounds effects and huge animal models. It's been a good 10 years since I've been to Rainforest Cafe though, so that comparison might be a bit of a stretch.

My point is that this spot is super, super cool. 

And what better way to enjoy your coffee, than while surrounded by walls of winding greenery and insanely wealthy young adults toting enormous shopping bags from the new Acne in town and complaining about how often their parents call them??

(No, seriously. I had a minor meltdown during the first part of my time at Verve because of the people sitting at the table next to me. And yes, one girl actually complained about how often her mother called her, then continued to say that she contacts her dad via email only.)

After this slightly intimidating group left, I was finally able to take pictures of my latte and my mom's 10-juice sampler without fear of judgement. Our new table neighbors were also much more kind and welcoming; we met their dog, Kevin, an adorable chihuahua mix (this is saying a lot, as I tend to hate small dogs because they remind me of rats) that had been rescue from a junkyard.

We enjoyed the majority of our sampler (my favorites were "The Redhead," "The Pipe Cleaner," and "Hot Lei," while the "Block Rockin' Beats" and "Cream Party" were a little harder to stomach), and all-in-all, $12 is a pretty good deal for 10 juice shots and the feeling that you've done something to healthify your diet.

After our coffee and juice date, we bid farewell to our new friend Kevin to explore the new APC, Acne and Aesop stores in the area.

Let's just say that we had a lot of fun at Aesop. Maybe a little too much fun. I mean, it's really hard to say no when a lovely sales associate offers to pamper you by massaging wonderful lotions and balms into your hands. It's like a spa treatment...but free.

We left Aesop happier, cleaner and excited to start using our purchases, a favorite of which was the Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm, a deliciously hyrdating hand cream with hints of mandarin orange and lavender.

I'm so glad to have added this wonderful product to my list of summer essentials, which also includes

Bali Body's Natural Tanning and Body Oil



 by this stuff - it gives me a beautiful bronze glow, while helping to diminish the appearance of skin irregularities, including my eczema), and my favorite sunnies from Toms.

What are your summer essentials?