Abbot Kinney | Venice, CA | Mini Guide

Abbot Kinney Street Guide / Venice, CA

Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA is one of my favorite streets in Los Angeles. Walking up and down the street will soothe your soul. The buildings are beautiful, the food is delicious, and there is of of course no shortage of classic California palm trees and sea breeze. Anytime I have to wait traffic out after a day in the office, I’ll head over to Abbot Kinney for some coffee (Intelligentsia & Tom’s), walk around for a bit and grab a bite to eat.

I’ve included my MUSt visit stops in this mini Venice guide. There are many, many other places to pop into as well, so I highly recommend spending an afternoon walking around and stopping in every storefront that catches your eye, you never know what you’ll stumble into.

1. Intelligentsia 

Coffee is always on point and the space itself spacious and designed to a tee. Take a seat outdoors, or cozy up to a counter seat. I highly recommend the affogato.

Intelligentsia - Abbot Kinney | Venice, CA

2. Gjelina and Gjelina Take Away

You can’t go wrong with Gjelina. It’s a feast for both the eyes and the belly. This is a place where you should not fear branching out and try something no. Every time I’ve done this I’ve never been disappointed. It’s always busy, so if you don’t have a whole lot of time I recommend heading next door to their Take Away store front. You can order the same menu, and you can even order slices of their delish pizza. Mushroom is my fave!

Gjelina Take Away | Abbot Kinney Venice, CA

3. Alternative Apparel

Comfiest and softest cotton basic pieces for every day wear. I always stop in to browse the beautifully edited store, and to hang out in their outdoor space. How neat is it that they open up their lovely patio to anyone and everyone, to commune, enjoy some wifi and just hang!

Alternative Apparel / Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA

4. Tom’s Flagship Store / Coffee

Again, we’ve got stores opening up their space as a communal refuge. I love everything about this. Shared spaces are my jam. And add the element of beautiful design and you’ve just injected so much motivation into my work session. I love bringing my laptop in and getting some work done all while enjoying some coffee, or a Juice Served Here.

Tom's Flagship Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA // Coffee Shop

5. Urbanic

My favorite place to buy some beautiful greeting cards and peruse office supplies. The store is packed full of items you can’t believe you didn’t already have on your desk already.

Urbanic Paper Goods Store / Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA Some other lovely Abbot Kinney sights

California California Design on Abbot Kinney,  Venice, CA   One of many design fronts on Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA

Super Simple Baked French Toast

Super Simple Baked French Toast Recipe Up until a few weeks ago, I had never ever in my life made French Toast. My whole life I’ve always seen it as some type of messy and complicated recipe. Boy was I wrong. I found a few different baked french toast recipes on Pinterest and simplified the versions to my taste. It’s quite likely that I will be baking up french toast every Sunday for a very, very long time. Try it. It’s so easy and delish you won’t regret it! I PROMISE!

Super Simple Baked French Toast Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 sourdough baguette, 3 – 5 days old
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • powdered sugar for the top

Topping:

Warm maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F

Slice the sourdough lough into pieces that will line up in your pan. I cut mine into 6 rounds to make individual servings. Butter the top and bottom of each piece.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs. Add milk, vanilla extract and salt and whisk it all together until the ingredients have formed a foamy consistency. Pour it all over the bread. You’re going to let it soak for about 30 minutes and while it’s soaking you will want to flip the bread every 10 minutes to make sure everything is coated. The bread should be wet, but not falling apart. If all the liquid hasn’t absorbed within the 30 minutes, go ahead and pour off the last bit of liquid.

After the 30 minutes, sprinkle the sugar all over the top of the bread Bake until the bread is puffy and golden in color. About 30 – 40 minutes. I always broil the top for a few minutes to get a darker and crispier topping. Once it’s cooled for a few minutes, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut and serve each piece with warm maple syrup!

It’s seriously so easy, there’s no excuse to not try it!

The Wedding // Part 4 – Gemma at The Bowery Hotel

Wedding | Wine Room at Gemma at The Bowery Hotel Picking a location for our dinner/reception wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. There were so many great options that it came down to the price point and ambiance. When a friend suggested I check out The Bowery Hotel I had no idea I’d love it as much as I did. The old school New York City vibe and feel made it THE perfect location for us. Gemma, the hotel’s restaurant, had a private dining area called the Wine Room, and within a few minutes of stalking this venue on Instagram knew I needed to contact the hotel. The minute my mom and I walked in I knew it was THE SPACE. Minimal decor was needed because the ornate candles, vintage baskets and old charm provided beautiful character and depth. I wanted the space to feel private and romantic.

A big selling point was the layout of the room. The floor to ceiling windows and open space gave us the ability to arrange the tables into a u shape. I had always envisioned our dinner party sitting in a conjoined arrangement vs. individual tables, and this room was able to accommodate that. The beautiful floor to ceiling windows and candelabras sealed the deal.

We went with our gut and like I’ve said in the past 4 parts, everything came together in a calm and almost ethereal format. It did and still does feel like the day was an absolute dream. (View all the parts of the wedding here -  Part 1 – Pre Ceremony, Part 2 – The Ceremony, Part 3 – You & I)

If you’re thinking about having a smaller more intimate wedding here are some things I learned along the way:

  • Decide early on whether you want a traditional reception (music & dj) versus a dinner party. Go with your gut. As much as I love dancing, I realized I love it at a club or at other venues, but for our wedding I wanted a more intimate fancy dinner party feel (as did the husband).
  • Private Dining Spaces: Look for private dining spaces within larger restaurants. You’ll save on decor, catering and serving costs by finding a venue that can accommodate a larger dinner party.
  • Know how you want the room to look ahead of time. Think about how you want to arrange tables and guests.
  • Minimums vs. Room Rental Fees: Gemma had a food and dining minimum that we had to hit versus a minimum and room rental fee. If you’re hosting anywhere above 25 guests, you’ll likely hit the dining minimum room rentals require. If you have to pay a room fee on top of the minimum it better be somewhere you cannot live without. You end up paying a pretty penny at that point and the savings of dinner party versus traditional venue rental are eliminated.
  • DIY Flowers: Or have really really great best friends who will help you the day of. Besides my bouquet, boutonnieres, and corsages my friends helped put together all the floral arrangements. They headed over to the flower district the day before and picked up a variety of white flowers (hydrangeas and roses). I picked up a variety of weck jars to use as vases and I couldn’t have been happier with the results.
  • Cake vs Cupcakes: Our dinner included a 3 course seated menu and we had passed hors d’oeuvres prior to arrival so our guests didn’t starve. Because dessert was included, we opted to have no cake and instead sent our guests home with Georgetown cupcakes. Don’t regret that one bit, people loved having the sweet treat for the road.
  • The Food is Important: Make sure you select a venue or caterer that is known for delicious meals. Eating well at a wedding makes it oh so memorable. I can still remember how good our meal tasted that night and I’m sure our guests do too!
  • Photography – Think about the style of photography you’re looking for. We knew we wanted an editorial and old school look and feel, and JBM Wedding Photography was able to capture our vision.

All photos by Jake of JBM Wedding Photography.

Wine Room | Gemma at the Bowery Hotel Wedding Reception Georgetown Cupcakes Wedding Favors | Gemma at The Bowery Hotel Wedding Reception | Wine Room at Gemma The Bowery Hotel Hand Lettered Wedding Dinner Menus | Gemma at the Bowery Hotel Wine Room | Gemma at The Bowery Hotel Wedding Reception Gemma at The Bowery Hotel Wedding Party | NYC NYC Wedding | Wine Room Gemma at The Bowery Hotel NYC Wedding | Gemma at the Bowery Hotel

The Wedding // Part 3 – You & I

Brooklyn Bridge Wedding Summer Sunset | The Kina's Blog You & I. Cue Lady Gaga belting it out in the background. Every time I look at the photos of Jon & I, I can’t help but break out to song in my head (and sometimes out loud). I heart that song and I heart these photos. There are a whole slew of just him & I photos, so to not bore you to death, I’ve only selected a few of them that depict exactly why we chose the ceremony location we did. Like I said in Part 2 of this series of posts, when Jon & I decided we were ready to tie the knot a memorable view was an absolute MUST.

A few months after we had our we should get married convos I stumbled across THIS photo and I became a Brooklyn Bridge maniac. I became OBSESSED with wanting our own version of this photo. The bridge became a good ole’ friend that  I had to have attend the wedding and pretty much every decision we made centered around HER in all her glory.

And yes I may have become a tad bit crazed by an inanimate object, but let me tell you WE have no regrets. Yes, WE. Once we saw the first photos from the bridge Jake shot of us words could not express how much he & I both loved them. All we could say was, well if you don’t get any more good photos after this no big deal because us on the bridge looking like we’re alone is everything. This photo on the bridge was taken at around 7:45 on a Sunday, in the dead of Summer – aka there were hundreds of tourists on the bridge that night. So if I learned anything from our wedding it would be don’t skimp on your photographer. Because we hired someone with Jake’s (the best photog!) experience he was able to direct a shot at the exact moment and where he could hide everyone walking behind us. It was perfect and it made the night even sweeter.

Brooklyn Bridge Wedding Photo | The Kina's Blog

Besides the Brooklyn Bridge, I am a huge fan of cobblestone and the beautiful view of the Manhattan bridge so some photos in DUMBO were an obvious must. Jon hates taking photos more than anything, but the perfection of that night and the magic of the moment made the photo taking seem like a day dream. It was so wonderful to spend that time together as the sunset as Mr. & Mrs. I know some photogs recommend snapping shots pre-ceremony, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There was something so special about not seeing each other until the moment I approached him and the time we got to spend together before we made it to the restaurant was something I’d like to relive in my mind forever. During our shots, we never felt like we were being photographed or staged, it all came so naturally and that is something we’ll always be so very thankful for.

In case you missed Part 1 and Part 2 – The Ceremony.

DUMBO Wedding Photo | Manhattan Bridge View | The Kina's Blog Brooklyn Bridge Wedding | Manhattan Bridge & Empire State View | The Kina's Blog DUMBO Wedding Photos | Bride & Groom Dip | The Kina's Blog

The Wedding // Part 2 – The Ceremony

NYC + Brooklyn Bridge Skyline | The Wedding | The Kina's Blog Once we decided we wanted to get married we knew the ceremony had to be outdoors with a view. Both of us love a good “this takes my breath away” view, so I knew I had to show Jon the Brooklyn Bridge Pier 1 Park view on our first trip to New York. A few years ago we ventured to the big apple for our anniversary, and after we made the trek across the bridge and sat down in the park we knew this was it. It was close enough to the old cobblestone in DUMBO and to the bridge itself, so the park it was.

At first we thought of having the ceremony and dinner at the River Cafe, which is literally next to the bridge, but their price point was out of control for what we wanted to spend. And while the view would have been lovely, the interior of the restaurant itself wasn’t exactly screaming romantic New York to us. So I quickly Googled what I needed to do to host the ceremony in the actual park and secured the city permit.

Now as I’ve said before Jon and I both were not fans of having some super duper traditional and over the top ceremony, so we thought an open public park environment would be perfect. Yes, there’d be people walking by, but the frenetic nature of it almost appearing to be an unplanned ceremony really appealed to us. We decided there’d be no chairs, no decorations or signage – our guests would arrive and the view itself would be all they needed.

A few months before the wedding, we asked one of my oldest and best friends to marry us. I can’t imagine it having happened any other way. I don’t think either of us would have felt comfortable had it been someone we didn’t know very well. The ceremony itself was sweet, short and heartfelt. She wrote the most beautiful narrative about myself, Jon and her experiences with the both of us. We felt so comfortable and at ease, and that was exactly what we wanted.

I believe that because our intentions with the wedding were so pure and true to what the both of us wanted, everything went off without a hitch. It was literally PERFECT. I wasn’t stressed, it didn’t rain, it wasn’t as humid as the previous days and the photos were simply stunning! Again, I can’t say it enough times – Jake of Jacob Murphy Photography was the BEST!

To view Part 1 of the wedding at the Bowery Hotel click here!

All photos by Jacob Murphy Photography.

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The Wedding // Six Months Later – Part 1

The Bowery Hotel in NYC Hotel Room Today marks our 6 month anniversary and it has definitely taken me FOREVER to get our wedding photos up on the blog. There were so many beautiful shots it was difficult to select a small handful, so I’ve resorted to splitting up the photos into multiple parts. In part 1, I’ll be sharing photos leading up to the ceremony.

There was a part of me that didn’t want to share the photos on the blog, and wanted to keep the bulk of those not shared on Facebook private. Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and share these photos because I’m still so over the moon with the fact that the entire day came to life in the exact way I had envisioned. I wanted the day captured in an editorial format, with photos that made you feel like you were there. I think Jake, of JBM Photography, did this justice.

Let’s start at the beginning. I’d never been one to daydream about my wedding day. What I wanted to wear, the color scheme and flowers were not thoughts that had ever crossed my mind. As I’ve stated before, until just two years ago I thought marriage was a loss of personal identity. Obviously, I eventually changed my stance on marriage. Once Jon and I were good and ready, we decided that we wanted to have a small wedding (It took me a while to be talked out of eloping, and I don’t regret it) and Jon’s requirement was “It can’t be boring.” I immediately knew an outdoor ceremony and a stunning background was so us. And then, when I stumbled across this photo on Pinterest, my world stopped and I knew what had to be done – the Brooklyn Bridge needed to attend our wedding.

With the bridge on my radar I envisioned my version of quintessential New York – chic, soft neutral tones and classic city views. There would be no frilly big dress or string of bridesmaids, I wanted it all to look effortless because to me that’s exactly what New York exudes. In April, I went out to visit my sister in New York with my mom to look for a dress and venue. I tried on 2 dresses and the 2nd one ended up being the one. I picked up the Maje dress from the Bloomingdales in Soho and it was exactly what I was looking for. The column shape and braided back detail were the perfect mix of modern and boho.

With the dress checked off the list, I ventured out to find a venue. Jon’s only other stipulation was that the dinner needed to take place in a private room. I was totally fine with being in the middle of a restaurant since our party would only include about 30 people, but he wasn’t as down with that. So, after visiting a few places, we decided on Gemma in The Bowery Hotel. The Wine Room had an amazing dark and soft ambiance, and was filled with beautifully burned and ornate candles. Once I walked around the hotel and saw it’s wonderful old New York charm I knew it was the one.

The hotel served for a beautiful back drop for our pre-ceremony shots. The decor of the room was rich in old school charm, and the oversized windows brought in the most beautiful light. Our photographer, Jake of JBM Photography was the absolute BEST! We posed for a very limited number of photos, and Jake worked his magic by capturing the pre-wedding festivities from afar.

Part 2 – The Ceremony is viewable here.

All photos by JBM Wedding Photography.

Bowery Hotel Bride \ Wedding Dress: Maje Armance Bowery New York City Views Bowery Hotel | Dog Groomsman New York Times, Day of the Wedding News 7.14.13 Bowery Hotel Wedding | Groom Getting Ready Bowery Hotel Wedding | Lucius the Groomsman Bowery Hotel Wedding | Groom Suit and Tie J.Crew Bowery Hotel | Bride Dress: Maje Armance Bowery Hotel | Bride and Sister Bowery Hotel Bride Bowery Hotel Bridal Bouquet | Sprout Home Design Sprout Home Corsage The Bowery Hotel Old School Key Hailing a Cab | Bowery Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

NYE 2013

2014 New Years Mantra

Wishing you all a very happy New Years Eve!

CK and I both love NYE. It’s so fun to reflect on the year and to get excited about what is to come. We both have a thing for even numbers and since 14 is one of my fave numbers I have a feeling 2014 is going to be a good one!

A Walk in the Park

Why, Sometimes I've Believed As Many As Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast | Central Park

The scenery in Central Park during the Fall is an absolute dream. I ended up walking through the park multiple times during my most recent trip simply because I could not get enough of the leaves. These leaves will stop you dead in your track. They are everything.

Having spent pretty much every Fall in my existence in Southern California makes for warm season without a whole lot of change in scenery. Which is why for me, there’s something so magical about walking through rows and rows of trees in Central Park. Your mind can’t help but wander, and you become lost amongst the cool air, quiet, trees and ponds. It’s inevitable to not feel as if you’re a child, wandering through some foreign magical place like Wonderland. And, quite frankly, you start to dream up and believe the most impossible things. That’s exactly what happened while I made my way through the park. So many dreams appeared while I took the time to wander and photograph, and I found so much clarity while the real and fantasy danced around in my mind.

If you didn’t know, daydreaming is one of my favorite activities. It clears your brain, opens up the creativity and makes you smile like a child. My best ideas come to me in daydreams. Some are far fetched and insane, and others are perfectly reasonable. I like to take away something from all my day dreams. I believe if you open your mind up to complete clarity, whatever ends up appearing/happening provides some sort of insight into your soul. Your true dreams, desires and emotions come through crystal clear.

I’d like to think all of us take some time each day to daydream. If you aren’t – do it!

For those of you who want to see more of the best city ever, NYC, click here  Central Park in the Fall

Fall Leaves in Central Park Central Park Gazebo from Sex and the City Movie

If you’re a Sex and the City fan you’ll recognize this gazebo from the movie. It’s where Miranda and Kerry meet up to discuss Miranda and Steve’s possible Brooklyn Bridge reconciliation. Central Park in the Fall Central Park Skyline

The Print Mix

Mixing Prints | Tribal + Stripes | The Kina's Blog

Forever 21 Geo Printed Cardigan | Cotton On Striped Long Sleeve Tunic | Bauble Bar Iced Lariat Pendant Tassel Necklace | Faux Leather Leggings | Lace Up Canvas Booties

I’m a huge lover of an all black ensemble, but there are times where I do enjoy mixing in a bit of patterns. My favorite mix at the moment is this tribal inspired sweater with some black and white stripes. Both pieces are oversized, so pairing them with some sleek faux leather leggings balances out the entire look.

I’ll probably be wearing this exact outfit on Thanksgiving. The only difference will be a swap out of these booties for some sneakers. Hope you all are looking forward to this excellent short week! xoxo

Mixed Prints | Geo + Stripes | The Kina's Blog

Shop all the pieces here:

The Dream List

The Dream List | The Kina's Net-a-Porter Wish List

If I could make purchases with a currency called “what makes my heart skip a beat,” these would be the pieces I’d purchase. One of my favorite things to do at night is to scour the internet for things that blow my mind. It’s part of the reason why I started blogging. I wanted to share these pieces that made my heart stop with all of you. Sometimes the pieces that draw me in are the simplest things (lot’s of neutrals) and sometimes they’re extravagant (bauble earrings + cobalt blue), but any time I let my mind wander to out of my budget sites I always thinking about what I have in my closet that could be used to emulate the piece. Try it, it makes cyber window shopping oh so much fun!

Shop all the pieces here: