Abbott Kinney.

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Photo: Abbott Kinney website.

If your running out for some last minute holiday shopping and you live in the LA area, consider spending an afternoon walking the streets of Venice Beach. Particularly Abbott Kinney. MSM and I look forward to our Abbott Kinney walk every year, and this year was just as wonderful as the past.

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How cute is this little girl and her father? I have no idea how they did it but Venice Beach provided snow and hills for sledding, hot cocoa, carolers, and Santa Claus. It was a festive winter wonderland!

When we arrived we first spotted a Winter Festival- yes, in SoCal there was sledding and Santa and Carolers. So much fun! After enjoying time here we started to walk the shops.

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Theres something wonderfully nostalgic about antique gum ball machines (filled with not so antique gum balls and candy :)). From Bountiful on Abbot Kinney.

Burro:

Burro

This is a great shop for finding reasonably priced unique gifts that are actually useful, not kitchy like the stocking stuffers from Restoration Hardware.

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This book was full of uncommonly useful advice. I even took some notes as I flipped through the pages. An outstanding reference book to have on hand.
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I fell in love with this fabulous stone cheese/cutting board by Roost. Attractive but useful decor to spice up the kitchen a little. 

I always find something lovable at Burro. Its a wonderful shop for finding a gift for that person that really has everything- and you won’t leave there with an item they will want to re-gift or throw in a closet.

Intelligengtsia:

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This fabulous coffee shop is home of exclusive chocolates and sodas. A strange gift? Maybe. But specialty chocolate and a superb wine could definitely be a winning combination.

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If you decide this isn’t the right place to buy a gift, take a break here over a heavenly latte paired with a delectable pastry- all made fresh in house. They also have an internet bistro table that seats about ten. Its funny to come into the shop and see the lineup of people typing away on their computers. Maybe they are each writing a blog!

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Intelligencia has tasty gourment coffees and chocolate drinks.

 

Velvet by Graham and Spencer:

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I love the leather leggings on the right. Leather skinnies are so in the past few years. An homage to the 80s, but I feel like I can rock them. As MSM says, its all in the attitude that defines what you can pull of in your wardrobe. Besides, they would be perfect for our NYE plans!

This clothing store, originally known for its casual T shirts, is stocked with fantastic basics. Capes, tanks, sweaters, and basic blouses abound,  I was coveting a fabulous pair of faux leather leggings. I know, I know, some of you my put your nose up at the word “faux” but hey, they were sexy! Velvet by G&S also hosts great sales at Christmas time. Don’t miss out!

Local Artisans:

While walking Abbott Kinney one can take a peak into a nook and cranny or alley and find stand alone shops where local artisans sell hand crafted jewelry and, if your lucky, wonderfully unique fashions.

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I just adore this cape I bought from a local designer. It reminds me of something Judy Garland would have worn in Meet Me In St.Louis. Or of something the women wore skating on the outdoor rinks in Norman Rockwell’s world. PS I know Danielle would hate this, but I couldn’t pass it up. Can’t wait to wear it over Christmas break in Carmel!

What the heck to wear when walking Abbot Kinney?

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Jacket: IRO  Jeans: Frame Denim (SO comfortable AND flattering!)  Top: Mossimo (yes, Target- its comfortable so sue me!)  Bag: Chloe  Boots: Stewart Weitzman

Its been unseasonably cold in SoCal. Let me rephrase; its been FREEZING (literally, 32 degrees at night) in SoCal. As per usual lately I decided to layer because sometimes, despite a chilly forecast predicted by the local weather man (do weather people still exist? Or is it all done by machines now?), when the sun peeks out to say “hello” it gets hot.

Hoping your holiday shopping is going well and your all having fun!

xoxo

QJ

QJ

 

 

 

An evening of old world charm.

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Evening view of the fabulous foyer at the Hotel Casa Del Mar.

When in doubt or in a sad mood, there’s no better cure than going for a visit to the The Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica. No need to book a room, as they are very expensive (unless you want to!). Sometimes all you need is a little dining or lounging get away. One of my favorite things to do in those situations is visit this hotel and, upon arrival,  pretend its actually my own personal palace. Hee hee. What better way to placate the inner-princess??

The Hotel

The hotel is situated just off center from the heart of Santa Monica. Perched on the strand, there’s a view of the ocean from almost every window. When approaching the entrance, one will be greeted by the friendly doorman who saves each guest the burden of opening the voluminous front door. As the door opens, behold the glorious foyer; soaring ceilings, floors coated in extravagant tile, and lavish foliage freckled around the permitters. Two gorgeous staircases beckon the guests onto the second floor.

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The palatial grand entrance of the Hotel Casa Del Mar.

 

Consequent to the ascent, the guest arrives into a library with towering book cases and causally elegant coastal themed decor. Just beyond the library sits the parlor. Decorated in a more elegant coastal theme highlighted by a 180 degree view of the pacific, this room has old world charm. It is spotted with inviting sofas and sophisticated cathedras, a unique coffee table assigned to each area. Here guests may relax and converse over port after a delicious meal, sip pre dining aperitifs, or, if preferred, choose this area to enjoy their edibles. Usually on Friday or Saturday night the parlor comes to life with hotel hosted live music that ranges from lounge singers or a quartet to a small orchestra…it varies each weekend.

 

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Afternoon in the parlor would be the perfect setting for High Tea. Photo: Lisa Romerein

An ornamented bar sits in the center of the grand open room, separating the parlor from the dining area. The dining area is another step up from elegant, not falling short of stunning.

A Palatial Fantasy:

The other night, as MSM nurtured his brolationship with his BFF at an Opeth concert, my friend Catherina (the wife of the BFF) and I decided to go the classy route and meet for cocktails and tapas at Casa Del Mar.

Since I was playing the “this is my own palace” game, when I arrived I waved “hello” to the door man as if I’d known him for years. We chatted briefly and he took some photos for me. Then I sat in the library and relaxed over a coffee table book while I waited for Ina.

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The Library at Hotel Casa Del Mar is cozy and casually elegant.

Once I welcomed Ina into “my home” (hee hee), we chose to eat in the parlor where a lounge singer roared, the room filled with her voice. The menu was small but the choices were all divine. Their wine list was vast and full of phenomenal vintages.

 

What to Order:

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The menu at Terrazza (the parlor restaurant at Casa Del Mar) is full of delicious options. I tasted the Jalapeño Salmon roll, which was exquisite (not pictured). We also loved the Kale Salad with a light lemon vinaigrette. Last,  who can go wrong with a fabulous charcuterie? (apologies to any vegetarians out there). We paired our choices with a grenache Rose from France (Ina) and an Argentinian Malbec (me). YUMMM. SOO GOOD!

What to Wear:

 

Prada

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I love this little skirt that I purchased on Gilt.com. It’s so feminine. It’s been hard to find appropriate places to wear it because it’s so puffy! I was excited to wear it to Casa Del Mar.

Skirt: RedValentino  Top: H&M  Shoes: Prada  Handbag: Chloe

The atmosphere in the Casa Del Mar is luxurious, so your dress should match. Think cocktail attire, and you will fit right in albeit slightly overdressed. Men wear suits with ties and women tend to be in dresses, not pants. Definitely no denim.

Ina and I had so much fun talking and laughing. It was like going away on a European adventure without the 16 hour flight. I say Europe because this hotel somewhat reminds me a tiny bit of my favorite place in on earth (in conjunction with The Ritz Laguna Niguel and, of course, Disneyland/Disneyworld); Hotel Du Palais.

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Enjoying our wine and conversation. We had such a wonderful time.

Happy thanksgiving everyone! Remember to count your blessings (like wonderful friends, and good health). Enjoy yourselves! And Bon Apetit!

xoxo

QJ

QJ