Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How a Boutique Hotel Integrates the Nature Principal

Richard Louv’s latest book, The Nature Principal: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder, discusses how modern technology is replacing nature as an ambivalent force in our everyday lives.  Louv eloquently weaves together personal anecdotes and scientific theories to illustrate the consequences of losing touch with nature.  He theorizes that this loss leads to a decline in health, both physically and mentally.  However, Louv does not simply note these correlations.  Rather, he implies that by finding our place within nature, we can gain a new sharpness that allows us to handle whatever life brings our way.  Louv often uses data gathered from experiments in which individuals are entirely immersed in nature in Outward Bound like scenarios to validate his ideas.  However, he also shows how even short bouts of immersion have significant effects.  In one such study, individuals were given a proof reading task.  After the original task, the group was divided.  One group went on a hiking trip, another went on an urban trip, and the control group did nothing.  Afterwards, the individuals were assigned a second proof reading task.  Those individuals who went on the hiking trip demonstrated significantly improved proof reading skills after their short bout in nature.  While many remain skeptic of Louv’s findings or declare them irrelevant due to the current decline of our ecosystem, Louv argues that the nature principle should guide our restoration efforts.  In his introduction, he defines this principle as being "about the power of living in nature—not with it, but in it.”   The Arroyo Vista Inn continually strives to embody this concept. The giant oaks that shade our first floor balconies, the various fruit trees that predate the inn’s opening, and the butterflies that dance outside the kitchen windows are constant reminders to us of our place within the natural world.  A brisk walk down Monterey Road and across the railroad tracks brings you to five large pine trees.  A small dirt trail between the trees links nature with the urban world.  Within seconds it is as if you have entered into an entirely different world.  The trail meanders past a golf course and sends you through baseball and soccer fields.  It winds past stables and parallels the concrete bottomed Los Angeles River.  As you walk further along the path, signs of man made life still hover in the distance, but you also begin to see signs of wildlife, a bunny hiding in the brush or lizards basking in the sun. 

On the hillside, grandiose stone staircases, distant remains of a BuschGardens venture never brought to fruition, lead you through smaller paths.  It is here where you start to key into the quiet sounds of nature.  The path veers, and you can see a rare section of the L.A. River that is unobstructed by concrete.  You can hear the water gliding over rocks, and see various species of small fish swimming in the shallow water.  Whether you decide to take a brief walk to the recently revitalized Lower Arroyo Seco Park or simply relax on one of our balconies, the Arroyo Vista Inn allows you the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature.  Who knows, if you stay here long enough you may just be able to find the sixth sense that Louv describes as a heightened sense of awareness, the natural sense.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Recipe Request: Zucchini Apple Muffins


A recent guest at Arroyo Vista Inn asked for this recipe.  She smelled them baking when she walked in and she enjoyed them for breakfast each morning. These muffins are a staple at Arroyo Vista Inn!                                                                                  

Makes 12 muffins


  • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 c. all bran
  • 2 tsp. double-acting baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ c. butter
  • ½ c. applesauce
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ c. milk
  • ½ c. raisins
  • ½ c. chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • 2 c. coarsely grated zucchini

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, the bran, the baking powder, the salt, the cinnamon, and the cloves.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter, applesauce, and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in the vanilla.

Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, beat in the milk, and stir in the raisins, walnuts, apples and the zucchini.

Divide the batter among 12 well-buttered or paper-lined ½ c. muffin tins and bake the muffins in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Turn the muffins out onto a rack and let them cool.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


ART cast: Roger Bart, Michael O'Keefe, and Bradley Whitford

 Do yourself a favor.  Go to see this play before it leaves town in about 10 days.  It is laugh-out-loud funny, au courant, and thought –provoking.
We are so lucky to live in (or visit) Pasadena!  To see a comedic play in this grand, historic theater with actors of this caliber, and written by such a notable playwright is nothing short of AMAZING! On top of all that, every seat in the theater is good and Pasadena Playhouse has “rush” tickets (about $20) one hour before the show.

The play explores the nature and limits of both art and friendship.  It makes us laugh the entire time.  The audience is totally engaged in the 90 minute show.  Go to enjoy yourself as well as support the actors and the theater.  Frankly, I want to go a second time because the dialogue is so dense and provocative.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Allergies—On the Increase

Before guests arrive at Arroyo Vista Inn, we inquire whether they have food allergies that apply to breakfast.  We also occasionally have guests who call in advance to inquire about whether we use air fresheners or scents (we don’t) and what cleaning products we use.  This is because food allergies, and other allergies, are on the rise.  UCLA Allergy Center hypothesizes one in five people now has an allergic condition.  Additionally,  children’s hospitals nationwide have seen a spike in severity of the children’s reactions to allergies.

Last weekend we had a record number of guests with food allergies!  As long as we know in advance, we are happy to accommodate them.  We always have soy milk available and vegetarian choices, but gluten free and dairy free can be a bit more challenging, unless we know in advance.  If we know ahead of time, it’s easy! 

 In any case these discussions with guests lead me to research a bit more on the increase in allergies, not only in the US but world-wide.  There are some theories that global warming has contributed to an increase in pollen and ragweed.  There are theories that excessive cleanliness and, indeed, sterile conditions, have contributed by reducing immunities we might have naturally developed from contact with germs.  Some experts opine the Western diet has contributed to a decline in helpful gut bacteria.  Some specialists urge earlier contact with potential allergy triggers (Dr. Ferdman at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles) and some urge later contact, demonstrating this is clearly an emerging area of medicine.

As the severity of allergic reaction increases, please let us know in advance so that we may help you avoid harmful triggers.

Read more:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hiking to Henniger Flats from Arroyo Vista Inn

One of the best things about living in the Pasadena area is the accessibility to numerous wonderful hiking areas.  Last week I took a beautiful hike to Henniger Flats.  It took two hours and 30 minutes to drive from Arroyo Vista Inn to the top of Altadena, hike up the toll road to Henniger Flats, run down, and drive home.  This is such a short amount of time to feel like you have really had a break from the responsibilities of everyday life, see some amazing views, and get a really good workout.  I came back with a clear head and a much better perspective on life.

To get to Henniger Flats, drive up Altadena Drive, bear right at Crescent, and park on Pinecrest.  The Mount Wilson Toll Road starts at a gate in the 2200 block of Pinecrest.  According to Dan’s Hiking Pages, www.simpsoncity.com, the hike is 5.4 miles round trip with a total change in elevation of 1360 feet.  The entire walk has spectacular views of the valleys.  Sometimes you can see the ocean in the distance.  With the great views comes lack of cover; in the summer the trail is hot and unshaded!  The trail is used by bicyclists, hikers, runners, and pet lovers.

At the very bottom of the trail is the Eaton Canyon Nature Center: good for kids and adults.  At Henniger Flats is the Los Angeles County Experimental Forestry Nursery.  Of course, if you are really energetic, you can continue on the Mount Wilson!

The above photo is a view from Henniger Flats on December 10, 2011.  The ocean was visible! Do something nice for yourself: Stay at Arroyo Vista Inn and go for a hike.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Somewhere In the World There is a Missing Day And Someone Will Miss Breakfast

Around the Arroyo Vista Inn Bed and Breakfast, that first meal of the day, is a big deal.  So, I was quite surprised when Russ told me that one country in our world is skipping a day this year.  Yikes, that means one less breakfast and of course one less night to have guests over.  Fortunately, that county is not us.
As you know the International Date Line separates “today” from “tomorrow” and earlier this year Samoa decided to move to the “tomorrow” side of the line.  Actually, I think someone in charge is moving the imaginary line so that Samoa will be on the same side at its major trading partners, New Zealand and Australia.
Right now when a business person in Samoa calls an office in New Zealand on Friday, it is Saturday in New Zealand and no one is there.  When New Zealand calls Samoa on Monday it is Sunday in Samoa.  You get the picture.  Now they will all be on the same day.
Further east, New Zealand has a colony of three islands called Tokelau where 1,200 people live.  They decided to make the move also.  So starting Saturday, December 31, 2011, the first place on earth to greet the sunrise will be Fakaofo, Tokelau.  And presumably, they will enjoy the first breakfast of the new day.  For more check out http://i.stuff.co.nz/world/south-pacific/5724234/Dateline-shift-gives-first-light-to-remote-atoll

We hope you will join us for breakfast any day.  We may not be the first place where the sun rises on earth, but at Arroyo Vista Inn in South Pasadena, California you will be served one of the finest breakfasts to be found on earth after spending a very restful night in one of our luxury rooms.  So start 2012 off right and book a room at our website arroyovistainn.com.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Green and Orange Christmas at Arroyo Vista Inn

While most people are dreaming of a White Christmas we here at the Arroyo Vista Inn are thinking of green and orange.  Mainly because right now our tangerines are ripe and delicious. You can enjoy them fresh off the tree.  One of the joys of living in Southern California is that much of our citrus ripens during the winter and brightens everything with colorful, great tasting fruit.

Russ picked some tangerines today and put them in the living room for our guests to enjoy.  He trims the tree of dead branches and fertilizes it several times each year, so he is happy when harvest time comes and he can enjoy and share the fruits of his labor.

Farmer Russ, being inquisitive by nature, also researched the tangerine and found it is closely related to the Mandarin orange and has been cultivated in China for over 3,000 years.  There tangerines are eaten out of hand but are also used in salads, desserts and main dishes.  We were surprised to find that the peel is dried and used in Sichuan (often spelled Szechuan or Szechwan in North America) cuisine. The tangerine is smaller than most oranges, easier to peel and break in segments and the taste is usually sweeter than an orange.  Some have a lot of seeds but not ours, so they are fun and easy to eat.  In the Northern Hemisphere tangerines ripen from October to April.  Ours started turning bright orange earlier this month.

Our oranges are also ripening and will soon be ready for juicing and served fresh with your breakfast here at the Arroyo Vista Inn.  We have ten citrus trees including six oranges and the tangerine and a lemon, lime and grapefruit.  In all, we have 22 fruit trees on the grounds, and since the Inn opened almost five years ago Farmer Russ has planted twenty of them.  He has promised to provide more in the future on all his farming exploits. 

So, if you are staying with us for the holidays, be sure to try some of our tangerines.  Even though we have already had a dusting of snow on the San Gabriel Mountains, you will be thinking of orange and green and asking for another tangerine.