out and about: venice, santa monica, + malibu.

March 15, 2016

craftsman mini-me: venice, california | reading my tea leaves

Sigh, California. We had the very best time visiting you. You were even better than I imagined. Here are a few photos and some of the favorite places we peeped during the first half of our stay out west.

To Stay:

Eastside? Westside? We did a fair amount of hemming and hawing before deciding to spend our LA visit mostly on the Westside and specifically in Venice. (The Siren call of ocean waves, you see.)

Craftsman Mini-Me: The little 400-square-foot bungalow where we stayed sits in the backyard of a house owned by the loveliest couple. Kevin and Susan lived in the tiny house themselves while they renovated the main house on the property, and they made it into a marvelous retreat, complete with the world’s most magical outdoor shower, a fully functioning kitchen, an outdoor patio, and more ambience than you can shake a stick at. We adored every second of our stay there, including a very dramatic hail storm that pelted the tin roof (Faye was utterly unfazed). The first half of our trip to California was pretty well filled up with book-related events, and so we were so glad that the space where we slept and woke up in each morning was pure magic. When you can’t be 100 percent out and about, it’s nice to feel like you’ve found something special when you’re inside and cozy. We haven’t stopped hearing about the owners’ dog, Boo, since we came back. You can book your own stay with them on Airbnb, right this way.craftsman mini-me: venice, california | reading my tea leaves

craftsman mini-me: venice, california | reading my tea leaves

craftsman mini-me: venice, california | reading my tea leaves

craftsman mini-me: venice, california | reading my tea leaves

craftsman mini-me: venice, california | reading my tea leaves

craftsman mini-me: venice, california | reading my tea leaves

To Eat:

We did a lot of eating at our Airbnb, but we made it out for a special treat or two, too. (Two snaps below from Instagram.)

Superba Bread Co. –  This place was close by to the place where we stayed and we stopped in a few times. It’s bright and cozy at the same time with lots of delicious options (and plenty of things vegetarian). It’s also roughly ten times bigger than any restaurant we have in New York and it was kind of amazing to stretch the old limbs while eating.

Taco Punta CabrasThank god Faye’s amazing babysitter is an LA-native. Lourdes hooked us up with the best recommendation for tacos (fish and tofu!) on our way back down the coast from Malibu. So, so, so good. But the experience was also kind of tragic. I’ll be wanting these tacos every damn day until I get to eat one again.

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market – You know you’re talking to an East Coaster when a farmers’ market with citrus is a revelation. We drooled over everything, scooped up as much as our bag would carry, and somehow lost two of the most beautiful grapefruits I’d ever seen on the route back to our car. 

Gjusta – So delicious and beautifully designed. Highly, highly recommended. (Also: it’s super close to LAX in case you’re hankering for a little taste of California to take home with you.

blood oranges | reading my tea leaves tacos | reading my tea leaves

To Do:

Our time in Venice was punctuated by book-related stuff and driving to and fro, but we did manage to sneak out for a few adventures. 

Venice Canals: The loveliest Hopie from Blockshop directed us to cruise the Venice Canals at dusk and we were so, so happy that we did. What a totally wild place. The history nerd in me wants take a deep dive into this place. Canals! Houses! Neglect! Restoration! FASCINATING. 

Venice Walk Streets: I was initially disappointed that we got to these streets after dark, but then I was THRILLED when I realized that so many of the houses were lit up with fairy lights. MAGIC. (Yes, I want to move to Venice.) 

Venice Boardwalk: Faye tried to steal no fewer than three skateboards and then rushed headlong into the thrashing ocean. Girls will be girls.

Abbot Kinney: The main drag in Venice is worth a stroll. It’s got your usual retail contenders, along with spots like the Cuyana store where we celebrated Simple Matters. Also: Palm trees. (All this Brooklyn girl needs to feel jazzed.) We never made it to the the highly recommended and nearby Flowerboy and General Store shops. Clearly, we need to go back immediately.

PCH to Malibu: On our one unscheduled day in LA, we decided to hightail it to the coast. We drove up the Pacific Coast Highway and veered off the road on a naptime-imposed ramble. After Faye woke up, we spent a few hours hiking around Point Dume. Faye got a lil’ friendly with the sea squirts and girl doesn’t mind a single bit ’bout getting her skirt sandy. venice, california | reading my tea leaves

venice, california | reading my tea leaves

venice, california | reading my tea leaves


malibu, california | reading my tea leaves

malibu, california | reading my tea leaves

malibu, california | reading my tea leaves


malibu, california | reading my tea leaves

And that’s about it before we headed out to the desert. Tell us what we missed! Tell us about the perfect tiny bungalow you have waiting for us to move into! 

For the curious:

I’m wearing the same jeans I’m always wearing;
these sandals;
a beautiful shirt given to me by Pas de Calais;
and my beloved Alma scarf.
Faye is wearing her trusty Nieva snowdrop sweater;
this little dress
and these trusty little sneaks.
I’m using our new uber-lightweight carrier. (We’ve been loving how light it is for trips when we’re not sure how long Faye will tolerate being carried.)

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  • Reply Rebekka March 15, 2016 at 8:36 am

    Oh!!!! It all just screams California to me! Beautiful, beautiful, evocative photos 🙂

  • Reply Melanie March 15, 2016 at 8:52 am

    You have such a gift that somehow you can make anything look beautiful! Wow…what a beautiful place you stayed at!!! I’m heading out to California later this year and I just can’t wait!!!

  • Reply Erin March 15, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Those canals look dreamy. I loved Malibu.

    My favorite is past Santa Barbara. There is a restaurant on the beach called Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach (I was there when it was the Brown Pelican). What a cool spot. I may have been ignorant to it’s touristy nature – but, I guess that’s because I went there with my Grandparents in 2003 before they both passed. I was 24, it was my first trip to California, and boy was I too cool for school, but, I loved it.

    • Reply Erin March 15, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Holy moly! I just read this and I need some SERIOUS grammar lessons. I blame it all on the fact that I am a scientist, not a writer. 😉

      • Reply Emily March 15, 2016 at 10:44 am

        Ha! I, too, am a scientist and also can have problems with writing. Though I usually just wind up sounding stilted and scientific with a lot of passive voice mixed in. I need some serious creative writing lessons, apparently!

        • Reply Erin Boyle March 15, 2016 at 10:45 am

          From what I see you guys are both a-ok!

        • Reply Erin March 15, 2016 at 1:11 pm

          Hooray for girl science power! 🙂 <3

  • Reply Aimee March 15, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Looks like a seriously fabulous adventure!


  • Reply Joan March 15, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Yep, California. Love.

  • Reply Emily March 15, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Beautiful! Your instagram had been making me long to go adventure somewhere, and these photos are only adding to that! I’m looking forward to planning an escape next winter when our tiny new baby will be up to it (and our toddler will be a big kid ready for more adventures). I think we’ll be escaping to China, but man, I’ve never been to the west coast of the US, and it looks quite beautiful!

  • Reply shannon March 15, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I love that you say “girls will be girls” about Faye getting into the sand/dirt – don’t all kids love getting messy?! It’s not a boy or girl thing, it’s a kid thing!

    *steps off soapbox* Looks like you had a lovely trip! Excited to see more 🙂

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 15, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      Right up there with you! (Never getting down;)

  • Reply Kim March 15, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Glad you had such a wonderful trip. I love Venice. Wish I had spent some time in Malibu and the dessert last time I was in LA. Did you happen by Tortoise General Store on AK? I could spend hours carefully inspecting all the Japanese treasures in that store.

    • Reply Kim (R) March 15, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Funny that both back-to-back comments about TGS came from Kims – Great taste, other Kim!

      • Reply Erin Boyle March 15, 2016 at 5:07 pm

        So funny!

  • Reply Kim March 15, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Another general store you have to visit the next time you are in Venice is Tortoise General Store on Abbot Kinney. Nothing but beautiful Japanese goods. Last summer they teamed up with Shiho Yoshikawa of Sweet Rose Creamery (another must stop) and did a pop up shop once a month of delicious Japanese flavors. We went every single time and often bought a different flavor as soon as we had finished our first cone.


  • Reply Camila March 15, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Love this! Such great tips. Looks like you guys had an AMAZING time. And little Faye, is adorable! 😀

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 15, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Thank you! We had such a blast!

  • Reply Jacquelyn | lark & linen March 15, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    That air bnb is killer! It sounds like you had a wonderful time!

  • Reply Genevieve March 15, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Beautiful pictures. I definitely want to be in that outdoor shower. I like Venice quite a bit too, but what I think is most interesting about it is sometimes not reflected when people write or depict visits there–it’s the extremely SoCal juxtaposition of the natural beauty and wealth and seediness and roughness. There are these wildly pricey shops a few blocks from lovely modest-looking bungalows that only rich people can now afford, just down the street from gaping intersections bordered by stucco chain stores; the beach is stunning but often nearly abandoned; the boardwalk is a hive of commerce and hustling to sell plastic junk. From a walk down Abbot Kinney and the surrounding neighborhood you would not know how diverse the place is, how bad parts of it smell, how much of the beachfront infrastructure still calls to mind the cheap amusement park for the hoi polloi it was intended to be, how much gangs and drugs are part of the (recent) history of the place…anyway! I don’t begrudge this beautiful, green, citrus-filled view of Venice, just wanted to note that there are so many facets to the place, which is what I think is unforgettable about it.

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 15, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      I’ve shared some the prettiest moments here. And of course a few day’s stay can’t reveal all the dualties of a place. As a visitor I have only the most cursory understanding of this place, but I agree that the reality of most every place, is this very sort of juxtaposition you describe. Rich/poor. Beautiful/destitute. Fragrant/smelly. We watched the sun set on the beach while behind us a school bus was waiting for folks headed to a homeless shelter. Striking, for sure.

      • Reply Genevieve March 15, 2016 at 2:30 pm

        Thanks for the reply! And I do want to make clear that I’m not taking issue with your choices about how to show your visit at all! You are the creator in this space, not to mention that part of visiting and seeing and remembering a place is inherently selective. There’s no way any of us can take everything about any given place in, much less relay all of what we do observe when we tell others about our experiences (even if we wanted to). I loved the post and images. Just wanted to share another view of this special and (as you say) wild spot.

        • Reply Erin Boyle March 15, 2016 at 2:38 pm

          Understood, totally! Just wanted to make sure it was clear that I wasn’t endeavoring to create a fully representative picture of the place! And wanted to acknowledge that the complex reality of cities and spaces isn’t lost on me (just, as you say, not what I chose to report here!). xo!

  • Reply Judit March 15, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Beautiful photos, as always!
    I also like your nail colour, could you tell me the brand/name? Thank you!

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 15, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      I remember that it’s RGB, but I’m not sure the name of the color!

  • Reply Alessia | handmadetoast.com March 15, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    nWow those plants creeping along the ceiling..was it a kind of ivy?
    that airbnb looks amazing!!! beautiful pictures Erin 😉

  • Reply Alessia | handmadetoast.com March 15, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Wow those plants creeping along the ceiling..was it a kind of ivy?
    that airbnb looks amazing!!! beautiful pictures Erin 😉

  • Reply Libby March 15, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    This is glorious! That AirB&B. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve planned vacations specifically around a prime Air B&B situation like that. That place is muah!

  • Reply Lydia March 16, 2016 at 8:35 am

    brb moving to california. thanks for sharing, i find this very inspirational!

  • Reply Alie March 16, 2016 at 9:09 am

    So beautiful! Love the photos!

    Question: Do the Pons shoes get dirty in NYC? I’d love to get a pair for the summer, but am not sure if the street dirt will get to them :). Thanks!!

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 16, 2016 at 10:17 am

      I haven’t noticed them getting especially dirty. I have a kind of dusty colored pair to begin with though!

  • Reply Becky March 16, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    So glad you found Tacos Puntas Cabras. They are my absolute favorite place. I actually delivered my babe at the hospital next door, and I took every chance to get their yummy food while either visiting for appointments or staying at the hospital to recover.

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 16, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      So good!!!

  • Reply RR March 17, 2016 at 5:55 am

    A quick question about your shoes – are they comfortable and do you have any trouble with the strap falling off your ankle as you walk?

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 17, 2016 at 7:28 am

      Yes! Not in the habit of wearing uncomfortable shoes! No trouble with the strap!

  • Reply Keri March 18, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    I’m so curious about how you packed for a few days in California. I’m heading to Los Angeles at the end of March for a conference, and though I’m used to mild spring weather in Vancouver, it’s difficult to figure out a minimalist packing regime for five days. A post on packing perhaps?

  • Reply Sydni March 18, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    I just want to live in that house!!

  • Reply Rajrang March 25, 2016 at 1:03 am

    Beautiful pictures Erin! Sounds like you had a great time there. This is such an adventurous place to chill out with family and friends. I would love to stay with AirBnB next time when i visit Venice. Faye is sooo cute and adorable 🙂

    • Reply Erin Boyle March 25, 2016 at 10:15 am

      You should! (And thanks!)

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