A Cliched Spring Day, Los Angeles

I took an hour-long sabbatical from my desk to stop and smell spring’s roses. Why save it for a rainy day?

NB: All pictures taken with my not-so-flashy phone camera.

Make Lemonade

Make LemonadePushing Up DaisiesFloral carpet

Between A Rock and A Hard Place

agaveSilver Lining

Palm fringed horizonMade In The Shade

In the shadow of palmsOn Middle Ground

Racing stripeSturdy As A Fir Tree

real firDon’t Gild The Lily

cala lilyKarma Camellia Carma Camelia

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose

roses are redHow Green Was My Alley

how green is this alleyA Place In The Sun

Modern Home

 

 

Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA

Named for the developer who famously weaved canals into Venice’s urban grid, Abbot Kinney Boulevard is one of the coolest streets in Los Angeles. New boutiques and restaurants are always popping up, but strolling the streets on Tuesday feels like Sunday. Its vibe, a little bit glam, a little bit edgy, is quintessential LA. So palmy, creative, inspiring, and dreamy.

Abbot Kinney's skyline

Abbot Kinney’s skyline

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Street art on a shop corner

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The famous Gjelina restaurant -- check out the cool street art on the walls.

The famous Gjelina restaurant — check out the cool street art on the walls.

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The Cruiser Collection

The Cruiser Collection

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Oh, to live by this block!

Oh, to live by this block!

Pinterest Happy, Los Angeles

While researching an article, I got stuck on Pinterest’s amazing pictures. Dragging myself away from the screen was tough. So, in the name of efficiency, I have compiled an honorary Pinterest post. Each image has some connection to LA — that’s the best I could muster. Dream on!

Brad Pitt by Mark Seliger, Los Angeles, 1997 (PIN by Max on Luminous Creatures)

Brad Pitt by Mark Seliger, Los Angeles, 1997. PIN by Max on Luminous Creatures.

Pin by Indoor Gardens, honestlywtf.com

PIN by Indoor Gardens, honestlywtf.com

Bar Marmont, inside the legendary and luxurious hotel, Chateau Marmont. PIN by Nina Harada on Facilitron Design-

Bar Marmont, inside the legendary and luxurious hotel, Chateau Marmont. PIN by Nina Harada on Facilitron Design.

November 24, 1945: Santa Claus Lane parade at Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas. PIN by printdesignr.

November 24, 1945: Santa Claus Lane parade at Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas. PIN by printdesignr.

A dining room in a Pacific Palisades home. PIN by Vickie Lucas Hafer.

A dining room in a Pacific Palisades home. PIN by Vickie Lucas Hafer.

Original Farmers Market, Los Angeles, 1950. PIN by Sereina on {history}

Original Farmers Market, Los Angeles, 1950. PIN by Sereina on {history}.

A bowl of clementines on a coffee table made from a free-form walnut top. PIN by California Chic.

A bowl of clementines on a coffee table made from a free-form walnut top. PIN by California Chic.

Vintage bar. PIN by One Kings Lane.

Vintage bar. PIN by One Kings Lane.

Elvis Presley hides from his fans under a mask with actress Joan Bradshaw in Hollywood on Oct. 31. 1957 / Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images). PIN by lulu D.

Elvis Presley hides from his fans under a mask with actress Joan Bradshaw in Hollywood on Oct. 31. 1957 / Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images). PIN by lulu D.

Cliff’s Edge, Los Angeles

L.A. has many spots that transport you away from the freeways, smog, and traffic — you just have to know where to find them. Hidden in Cliff’s Edge, on busy Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, is a glorious patio shaded by an ancient Ficus tree. Hugged by sky-high bamboo hedges, the outdoor space plants you in a tropical wonderland, where you can splurge on cocktails and comfort food to your heart’s content. But because Cliff’s Edge is hardly a secret, it’s best to make a reservation if you want to be seated for Sunday brunch.

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Truffle fries, pomegranate mimosa, and a Campari cocktail

Truffle fries, pomegranate mimosa, and a Spritz cocktail

Frittata and pancakes

Frittata and pancakes

A deconstructed pavlova with chocolate, crushed pistachios, and chocolate cake. Delish!

A deconstructed pavlova with chocolate, crushed pistachios, and chocolate cake. Delish!

Scenes from Venice Beach on a Friday — LA, CA

I love Venice Beach even more after having discovered it is a quasi-peninsula, bordering the inlet into which the Pacific Ocean flows to feed Marina Del Rey’s waterfront views.

Scenes taken with the phone camera on a lovely 80F day.

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The bougainvillea could pass as the neighbourhood flower–it’s everywhere.

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The hard life: surfing.

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A Venetian canal in a cinnamon hue.

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The inlet that leads into Marina Del Rey.

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80F and sunny in Venice Beach.

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Avant-garde Pacific Ocean.

Home

A home.

Rent

A home for (expensive) rent.

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The World’s Smallest Front Yard hugs a home with reflective windows — the ocean is behind me.

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The Great Outdoors Californication style.

Echo Park ~ Los Angeles

Echo Park: You could say it echoes Brooklyn’s Bushwick; it might even be compared to nearby Silver Lake (a less developed version of it , anyway). This neighbourhood, located 10 minutes from downtown LA, has that energetic feel so prominent of communities that attract a newly-moved-in younger demographic of artists, foodies, and entrepreneurs.

Take Brite Spot, for example. I’ll admit to having passed it a few time, only to dismiss it as just another old-school American diner. Hey, it’s painted bright blue, it’s on busy Sunset Boulevard, and claims to be Echo Park’s original diner since 1949. Ever since I tasted “the best margarita” in New York, I have avoided places making grand statements. However, my husband was convinced is was going to be a find based on many favourable Yelp reviews, so with a twist of the arm, my tummy gave in. We hopped in the car on one very warm Sunday in May and drove inland for brunch.

I have to say that when I entered the diner, I was quite taken with its cosy interior. Even more promising was that the place was buzzing with all sorts: yuppies huddled in a booth discussing last night’s drinking antics, grandparents feeding grandkids; a lone brunette in the corner reading the paper and eating eggs over easy. The space looks like a 1970s ski chalet crossed with grandma-chic — bronze vinyl booths and large windows that let in the gorgeous L.A. light line one side; perpendicular to it is a wall of mirrors, interspersed with retro-looking black-and-white light sconces. Wooden swivel pub chairs surround the central coffee bar, mood lit by an overhanging orbital chandelier. On the menu: on-trend items like egg-topped kale salad, vegan Garden Burger, as well as modern twists of the usual diner fare: 2 eggs any style with sausage and bacon (note: substitutes include egg whites, tofu, or veggie bacon). But it’s the dessert display case that was the apple of my husband’s eye — I immediately knew that our meal would end with a piece of the sinful-looking Chocolate Caramel Banana Creme Pie, piled high with lashings of freshly-whipped cream. I have to admit that our meal was good. Really good, and fairly priced.

Served by a tattooed, plaid-shirt-wearing waitress and surrounded by patrons of all ages — yuppies discussing last night’s drinking antics, grandparents feeding grandkids; a bookish young lady reading the paper over eggs in a corner — Brite Spot Diner feels like a microcosm of what’s happening in Echo Park today.

So, what is going on in this ‘hood? Here’s what Eric Brightwell wrote in the Los Angeles Times back in late 2011:

All you hipster-haters need to check yourself. Yes, hipsters are offensive to the eyes, ears and nose and yes, they provoke violent urges in me but remember, the Echo Park you grew up in wasn’t always that way either. Echo Park began as a wealthy, white, Victorian neighborhood. Places change for the better and for the worse. I remember El Prado when it was a dive (I liked it then) and like it as a posh wine bar too (certainly there are more women in there now).

I miss some of the old Echo Park but it’s still got the Film Center, Pizza Buona, Echo Park lake, the Baxter Stairs, the memory of Room 8 the Cat, Jensen’s Rec Center (with its cool sign).

My advice? Ignore the haters, the hipsters and (most importantly) the hype. It’s not the Williamsburg of LA, it’s Echo Park… oh, and lying WEST of the LA River, don’t be an idiot and call it the EASTside.*

Today, the facades that stretch along this part of Sunset Blvd look relatively unchanged; the burrito joints, liquor store, and tobacconist have probably been here since the 1960s. It’s easier to make out progress by the new condo developments that have been fitted in between many Craftsman-style homes, standing since the early 1900s. If you take a drive down the quieter Echo Park Ave, you’ll pass newly sprouted coffee shops selling $5 coffee pour overs to a WiFi-dependent clientele, as well as a yoga studio, a quirky boutique, hair salon, a bodega, and a real estate agent.

Based on some research I had done earlier, we scouted a beautiful home on Valentine Street. Designed by architect Raphael Sorriano and built in 1938, it is a salute to Modernism – sleek , simple, and lots of windows. Because the neighbourhood is so hilly, many homes have great views towards the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, downtown LA, the Valley and the 5 Freeway. Some downhill descents are so steep that with the gradual build up of momentum, and a subsequent “woosh,” you feel like you’re riding a rollercoaster.

Echo Park is certainly an area to watch and has the familiar feeling of a community on the verge… It’ll take some time to get there but I am happy about that as things seem to happen way too fast in this technology driven world.

The interior of Brite Spot Diner

The interior of Brite Spot Diner

Stumptown (artisan) coffee

Stumptown (artisan) coffee

A bit retro, a bit old school, a bit ski chalet

A bit retro, a bit old school, a bit ski chalet

Stumptown Americano

Stumptown Americano

Kale Salad: Chopped kale, fried egg, bread crumbs, toasted pine nuts, lemon garlic chili dressing $9.75

Kale Salad: Chopped kale, fried egg, bread crumbs, toasted pine nuts,
lemon garlic chili dressing $9.75

Chocolate Caramel Banana Creme Pie

Chocolate Caramel Banana Creme Pie

The Brite Spot vibe

The Brite Spot vibe

Catering to the DAFT PUNK demographic

Catering to the DAFT PUNK demographic

The view from Fargo Street

The view from Fargo Street – looking toward LA’s downtown

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Steep streets with view that look onto the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory (right)

Steep streets with view that look onto the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory (right)

If you like rollercoasters, you'll like driving in Echo Park

If you like rollercoasters, you’ll like driving in Echo Park

A sunlit wrought iron gate

A sunlit wrought iron gate

Looking onto the 5 Freeway - the Los Angeles River is in the background too

That’s my husband looking onto the 5 Freeway – the Los Angeles River is in the background too

Smelling fresh baby peaches

Smelling fresh baby peaches

Modernist architect Raphael Sorriano designed this home, built in 1938

Modernist architect Raphael Sorriano designed this home, built in 1938

Another view of the Raphael Sorriano home

Another view of the Raphael Sorriano home

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*http://projects.latimes.com/mapping-la/neighborhoods/neighborhood/echo-park/comments/