This year between work obligations and limited vacation, our middle son Spencer and youngest son Chanler could not make the trip back East. And for the past few years, our oldest son Pierre has been spending Christmas with his lovely girlfriend (April) and her family in Seal Beach. So if Christmas couldn’t come to us, we were coming for Christmas. I was pretty firm with Chris that I didn’t want, let alone, need a “thing.” So my gift was an extra 6 days in Venice Beach! That’s where I spotted this frisky, only-in-LA Barbie in a store window. I’ve edited out Ken’s antics!
WHAT I WORE
Indulging in my animal instincts for lunch with a dear friend. Tee (Emerson Fry — love this brand!) Jeans (Current/Elliott, sold out but similar and on sale!) Bag (Tory Burch as seen here, here and here. Long sold out but boy did I get so many positive comments from random strangers! TB…maybe you need to bring this back!!) Sandals (Chloe, on major sale! Get them for next summer!!)
I asked Spencer and Chanler for “LA experiences” for my Christmas gifts, and to their credit that’s what I got. This Yayoi Kusama show was just pure fun. And that newspaper kiosk is 3-D art! Fleece Jacket (Patagonia) Tee (Play x CDG, an investment for sure but they last for years and make an outfit every time. This exact camo pattern is sold out, but I’ve linked a similar option.) Jeans (Madewell, sold out but similar style linked.) Sneakers (Gucci) Bag (Zara, sold out but similar linked here.) Necklace (Ginette NY, one of my all-time favorite jewelry designers.)
How about a cozy Christmas-y sweatshirt! And furry slides to up the ante. Sweatshirt (Katie Kimmel x Lou and Grey, sold out but fun alternative is linked.) Jeans (Mother) Slides (Gucci, sold out but new version linked. Fab and affordable faux options here and here.)
For this look, everything old is new again! Jean Jacket (Kut, sold out but similar style is linked), Skirt (Réalisation, also seen here. Instagram’s It Skirt that is still going strong!) Tee (Disney x H&M, also seen here, on sale!) Sandals (Valentino score @ Nordstrom Rack, so be on the lookout!)
WHAT I DID
I loved staying in Venice Beach, because it’s such a walkable neighborhood. And I walked A LOT, logging in 6+ miles almost every day. Because Spencer and Chanler each have cars, there was no need to rent one. And Uber was an easy and affordable option when needed. During rush hour, I even took the Metro to Downtown LA!
There were so many great restaurants within walking distance of our Airbnb, so indulging my foodie tendencies was easy and oh-so-enjoyable. And when I wasn’t eating out, there was a HUGE Whole Foods just blocks away. Besides family meals, I was also able to meet up with quite a few LA-based friends for lunch or dinner. All in all, eating (and drinking) in LA was probably my favorite activity. Yup, even beating out shopping.
My picks: Makani (a seasonal spice-driven menu and a rum-centric cocktail list — so good I went there for dinner once and drinks twice), The Rose Venice (a stunning, multi-concept dining emporium that combines a mouth-watering bakery, to-go counter, coffee bar, full liquor bar, “study” area and patio, as well as an actual restaurant!), Shojin (Japanese Vegan & Macrobiotic Dining with fantastic presentation and service), Salt Air (a seafood-centric beach bistro though I had an amazing burger), The Butcher’s Daughter (a bright, bleached-wood outpost offering vegetarian (mostly vegan) fare, juices and a full bar), Cafe Gratitude Venice (locally sourced, organic vegan food and drinks served in a bright, spacious cafe with patio seating), Toca Madera (upscale organic Mexican fare — including vegan options — served in a posh, sexy space), Terroni DTLA (a historic former bank now plays host to creative and delicious Italian dishes), Elf Cafe (organic, locally-sourced, Mediterranean-style vegetarian (and vegan) dishes in a cute, cozy space), and Neighbor (a California-inspired New American bistro with seasonal fare, great Happy Hour, and pretty outdoor patio). If you’re sensing a trend, you’re on the money. I did have that burger but otherwise ate vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian. And I liked it!
While shopping (at least for myself) took a back seat to dining, I did do some early-Birthday damage (his!) with Spencer at Scotch & Soda (Amsterdam Couture that’s rich in detail but also affordable) and treated Chanler to some apartment necessities and extras at Target.
When it came to strolling up and down Abbot Kinney Boulevard, I ventured into MedMen, the cannabis dispensary that looks and feels like an Apple Store, complete with its cool-yet-friendly staff outfitted in logo tees and hoodies. It was a hoot, and hey, it’s legal as long as you’re over 21. I did window shop at a few places that are on my list to revisit next time: Aviator Nation (expensive but covetable 1970s inspired California chic), Blue Star Donuts (duh), Burro (swoon-worthy gifts, homewares, stationery, clothing and accessories), Grow Venice (all about the well-designed California urban lifestyle), Heist (featuring a curated selection of women’s designer clothing), Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream (known for their unique seasonal flavors…in case donuts don’t do it for ya), Miansai (jewelry and watch designs meticulously crafted from the finest materials — Chris wanted to buy me something there but I stuck to my “no gifts” mantra — next time!), Sabah (colorful, comfortable leather shoes crafted with traditional Turkish techniques), and Waruku (I have shopped their amazing selection of limited-edition clothing, shoes and accessories many times in the past and almost got Chris to buy a pair of sneakers this trip).
Also spent some time in the Moon Juice shop in Venice, where they celebrate the healing force of plants with organic cold-pressed juices, milks, coffees, tonics, Adaptogens (featured in this post), and skincare. I will be back!
I got an after-dark tour (LA traffic!) of Sony Pictures Studios (Ghost Busters cars, Breaking Bad Meth Lab RV, Bryan Cranston’s parking space…!) where Chanler works for Epic Records, Spencer’s cool DTLA NationBuilder offices, plus saw both of their new apartments. Spencer and I walked the Venice Canal Historic District and checked out the holiday decorations. I walked the Venice Beach Boardwalk to the Santa Monica Pier almost daily. While it might be too touristy or too grimy for some, I loved taking in the scene as I got in my steps.
A highlight of my trip was the afternoon (organized by Spencer) at The Marciano Art Foundation (3rd outfit above), a former Masonic Temple turned modern art mecca. Tickets are free but must be reserved online in advance. There’s a spectacular Ai Weiwei exhibit, including his new and previously unseen “Life Cycle.” This show closes on March 3rd but is a must-see. The ongoing Yayoi Kusama “With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever” is both fanciful and Instagram-able. The other ongoing shows, as well as the permanent collection, are also visit-worthy. Not to mention The Relic Room, a treasure trove of Masonic objects that were left behind when the Temple closed.
We were also lucky to be hosted by friends on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which made us feel “at home” for the holidays. With two sons, as well as many new and old friends, making Los Angeles their home base I plan on making trips out there more than a once-a-year thing. I guess you might call that my 1st New Year’s Resolution!
Photos by MP Allegaert, Spencer Allegaert, Chanler Allegaert, Chris Allegaert, April Cross and Cinda Rosenberg.