2014 Summer Trip Part 1: Stories from LA

I hadn't been home to California in about 2 years, so you can imagine how happy I was this Summer when I knew I was going for 3 whole weeks!!! On Wednesday, August 16th, George & I left on our trip. My husband stayed at home because, well, somebody needs to work and in all honestly he hates the long trip and jet lag, so at home he stays with our little dog Lucy.

We flew into LAX after a completely hellish trip to get there. I am going to spare you the gory details of that journey as it has to do with 2:30 wake up calls, vomit, crap, no edible food, etc…. you get the idea. It wasn't first class bliss that is for sure. My sister Michele picked us up but she needed to get back to work so she dropped us off at her friend's house. Not such a bad thing as I really like the vibe at their house. They are just the right mix of funky and artistic, yet down to earth. They even have a chicken coop in the backyard! Something I would have never imagined at a home that is only a few blocks from the Grove & The Farmers Market. Which by the way, are both a must stop for anyone going to LA.

Funky yard at the friends house. I so want that sign for my kitchen.
Chicken coop… I would love one of these.
My sister came back to get us at around 7:00 and we were so tired that we were about to just pass out right there on the floor. Helloooo jet lag! We left to go to her home in Silver Lake, but not before picking up some Pho. I have been craving this food since the last time I was at Pho Cafe 2 years ago. So good. So healthy. Best stuff ever! Yes, and the place is so cool that they don't even have to put a sign over the door. Totally...100% Hipster.
Pho Cafe in Silver Lake.
Thursday morning, we woke up at the wicked hour of 4:00am. Have I mentioned how much I hate jet lag?!? George's #1 favorite thing to do when we visit Aunt Michele is to wake up (at some wicked hour) and get chocolate donuts from 7-11. Go figure, however  this isn't so awful seeing as it's the only place open 24 hours and I need coffee as soon as my eyes open. Surprisingly enough, the coffee is actually pretty good there.

Every time we go back to America we choose one tourist thing to do. One year it was a helicopter, private plane and boat ride to the Grand Canyon and Colorado River, which was by far one of the freaking coolest things I have ever done in my entire life. Two years ago we went to Lego Land and this year we chose Universal Studios. What can I say, my son is 10. We got ready to go around 9:00am and decided to walk down to Sunset Boulevard to have breakfast. Well, the walk was a bit longer than we expected but instead of bitching about it, we decided to embrace our inner city souls and enjoy all the awesome graffiti we discovered on our way to the diner.
Our awesome graffiti finds.
We finally arrived at Millie's. This is a must see and eat for when you are in LA. It's an institution. So old school and so delicious that I guarantee you will not be disappointed. George said it was the best breakfast he has ever had. This does not happen. Ever. The only thing I didn't like (sad to say) was the coffee. I am a bit of a coffee snob. So, when you leave Millie's, take a left and walk down the street (while passing unique shops) to Sunset Junction and there my friends, you will find the very best coffee shop of them all Intelligensia. Don't forget your dark glasses as this, (like most of Silver Lake) is hipster central.

Now full of caffeine I was ready to confront Universal Studios. After about a 15 minute taxi ride and a $184 entrance fee ($92 each… ouch) we were in. It was an attractive, clean, Disneyland-like experience like most of those places are. The 3-D rides were pretty cool, if not a bit nauseating with all the movements but the studios tour was interesting. I hadn't been back since about 1977 and I had to laugh a little as I remembered the Jaws experience actually scaring me and now it just seemed a little kitsch and outdated but it was still fun. There were tons of overpriced food and gadget shops everywhere you looked and I really don't feel that the whole experience earned it's hefty price tag, but George was happy so there you go.
Uinversal Studios!
Scooby Doo and Shaggy too.
Friday we had a few errands to run. We went to the DMV to renew my California driver's license (shockingly organized of me). We took our very first bus ride in LA. I must say, aside from the typical crazies that you would find in any city or country riding a bus, it was a good experience. Super cheap ($2.00) and really efficient. It was a nice way to see other parts of LA that I might otherwise not have seen. We took the bus to Beverly Hills to go meet my sister at work. My genius sister is a head city planner there. We got there in time for lunch, so we took a walk over to M Cafe. Another one of my absolute favorite eating establishments in LA. Love it there. It is NOT all fried food like the night before. Everything is healthy, fresh, and consists of mostly vegetarian dishes. When I am in California I tend to hop on the healthy train and eat as many crazy concoctions of healthy foods as possible because that doesn't really exist here in Italy. Definitely get the kale salad if you go to M Cafe. It is amazingly good.

Beverly Hills was beautiful and perfect but definitely no shopping to be done there. Two reasons…
1. Shopping with a 10 year old boy is so not fun. 2. I can afford nothing but a new Nars lipstick from Barneys. Sad but true. I saw a necklace similar to one that I make and the price tag was $280. Seriously?!? The one I make is like $34. Maybe I need to rethink my prices? Hmmm… 
I have a deep love of  Barneys.
Later on we headed down to Venice Beach. Not the actual beach with the muscle dudes and tourists but to Abbot Kinney. I used to live in Venice beach so I have definitely "been there, done that" as far as the Jim Morrison, I hang out at the beach, wear no shoes and get braids in my hair scene. In my older, wiser years (totally laughable statement) Abbot Kinney is much more my style. It has changed lately however and it's almost getting too swanky. It has this great, artist, groovy, super California feel to it, but like I said, the boutiques are getting to be a bit too chic and too expensive and I fear it will loose it's charm soon. That being said, it's still awesome!!!
I then had a mission. I was going to the hat man. I found him by way of the blog Messy Nessy Chic and knew that I had to meet this man. I mean seriously, can you blame a girl?!? Just look at him.
Nick Fouquet
Ummm yeah. So, I found the shop, which is ultra groovy but unfortunately my beautiful Nick was really busy. He was speaking with his architect about expansion I think, and sadly enough the shop was very empty of hats. Mr. Fouquet has been a very busy man. As soon as I thought I saw my opening to approach this talented specimen of the human race (let's be honest, I was crushing hard), Marg Helgenberger (beautiful red headed actress from CSI) walks in and poof he was gone and talking shop with her. Ahhh, C'est la vie. If you want more info on the talented Nick (and seriously who doesn't?!?) He has an amazing website here.
Cruising down Abbot Kinney while soaking up the sun, we did some shopping, visited a few interesting art galleries, popped by a hipster party and saw some pretty neighborhoods. My sister's boyfriend lives two streets away, so they showed me some lovely, little places.
That is my beautiful sister on the left, hipster party on the right and George making yet another friend.
Million dollar homes in Venice Beach. Love the tree house and I thought the "posta" Italian style was a good find.
Saturday and our last day in LA. My sister decided that our destination for breakfast was to be Los Feliz. It's a groovy little area and there was a much needed car wash there for our road trip. There are massaging chairs at that car wash which George thought were just crazy cool. We ended up eating at Fred 62 which is another fantastic, retro kitsch, groovy diner with a really yummy, eclectic, California diner menu. It was delish!

George and Michele walked down to the car wash as I wandered the shops. There is some awesome shopping to be done in Los Feliz my friends. I wish I would have gathered info while I was there so that I could share, but I am a total wannabe blogger and never think of that stuff.

Before we went home, we hit the Saturday morning Silver Lake Farmer's Market. I love this colorful little market… from flowers, to fruits & veggies, to teriyaki tofu, and kale chips… this market is a great destination on a Saturday morning.
Fred 62 in Los Feliz.
Enjoying the neighborhood graffiti once again. Why hello there Mr. DiCaprio!
Michele's sweet digs in Silver Lake. That's my attempt at a self timer pic.  Lovely eh?!?
I can't believe we did all that stuff in just 3 days and this blog post was probably too long. Next post will be the road trip to Lake Tahoe. Until then do you have any interesting Los Angeles tips for my next trip back? Let me know...

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