Photo Journal: Santa Monica & Venice Beach, LA

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One of the best things that’s come from starting this blog is that I’ve “met” some awesome and inspiring people. I got super excited to read that one of those kindred souls was packing up her life and flying off to LA to start an adventure around the world, and for the past few weeks I’ve been jealously and vicariously following Bec’s adventures on her site My Bloggable Day, while lamenting to my husband that “this girl just packed up and left with her boyfriend, why can’t we just do that?!” Anyway, she had some killer shots on both her Instagram account and her blog of her time in Santa Monica, which reminded me of my time there 6 months ago…

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Sunny Santa Monica. Even in winter. It’s a really beautiful spot, particularly when you’ve had enough of the Hollywood scene and you just want to get out and relax a little. There are still a few of the beautiful people walking and jogging and doing push ups in the park areas, but for the most part, it’s just a beautiful stretch of pier and sand 🙂

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And then, there was Venice Beach. It was like Santa Monica’s cooler, more hipster cousin. I really liked it there, it was like Fitzroy had moved to St Kilda Beach…

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It was probably my favourite area in Los Angeles that we visited, and the first place in the city I’d go back to if I were to return; great food options (like the most delicious peanut butter breakfast I had at Another Kind of Sunrise), heaps of street art, book shops, artists selling their wares along the beach strip, and Abbot Kinney Blvd.

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And the street ballers. Having grown up around basketball courts, there’s something that feels so good about hanging out by the courts in the sunshine, hearing the ball pound against the pavement, the water and street musicians providing the perfect soundtrack for a perfect morning on the other side of the globe…

Eat here: Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Brooklyn NYC

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, New York
http://birdsblack.com

While I was looking at things to do in Brooklyn for this trip, Four & Twenty Blackbirds popped up a few times on websites, blogs and what not. Their instagram is full of gorgeous pictures of amazing pies, with some pretty cool and crazy flavours; among today’s options were sweet potato & apple, and cranberry & sage.

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I chose a slice of black bottom oat pie (all slices USD$5.50 each, whole pies also available) which was pretty darn perfect. Golden, crisp, flaky crust, baked to perfection, with a chocolate cake/brownie-type bottom and the most incredible baked oat filling.. It was sweet and a little buttery, crunchy sugary oats on top, it was sooo good!!

Also grabbed an earl grey tea for me and a latte for husband – USD$12.00 all up for the lot, which was pretty reasonable for such a big piece of pie in such a lovely little hipster establishment! I’m also finding that a good cup of tea is next to impossible to find in this country, so I’m happy to pay a little more for tea that tastes like tea and not like sugary milk. Apparently the coffee was very good, too. More than worth the trip out there, perfect spot for afternoon tea after a long day on your feet!

Four & Twenty Blackbirds on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Cafe Zen Den, Melbourne

Cafe Zen Den, Eltham, Melbourne
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-zen-den/524769457609595

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TGIF people!! I’m coming up to my one year anniversary of working a job in the “real” world; as in, Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 type stuff. I spent the first 10 years of my working life in jobs that required early morning starts (5.30am), late night finishes (10.30pm), split shifts and weekends. Every damn week. Last year after a, well let’s call it what it was, a break down, I finally came to a compromise: instead of killing myself working in jobs that I did actually enjoy, but had crappy wages based largely off commission and therefore varied week to week (shit when you have a mortgage and HECS debt to pay off!), rotten hours that meant I was usually working while my husband and friends were not, and serious stress, I decided to take a job that was a bit more boring and not in an area of my passions for a much better pay, WAY less stress and great standard hours which then allowed me to follow my passions (like cooking and writing) in my spare time, as well as being able to save enough money for travel while still being able to pay the bills! Pretty good compromise, I think!

Anyway, the best part about this, is that I GET WEEKENDS NOW!!!!!!! A full 2 days off, EVERY WEEK!!! I’ve NEVER had this before – I’ve worked weekends from the time I started working as a casual in my teens until last year as a 27 year old – insane! I’m also now learning to slow down and enjoy life, now that I don’t have to try to fit all my weekend activities into one morning or afternoon off like I used to. One of my favourite weekend activities now is catching up with a friend for lunch – last weekend it was a long walk around Eltham’s park lands with Sibba and lunch at Cafe Zen Den! We chose it because it’s a favourite place for her, I’d never been, but had heard great things. We also both like to keep active, so we thought catching up over a pre-lunch walk would be nice too, and Eltham is the perfect place being half way between our houses.

Sibba went with the tofu macro bowl ($11.00) – a delicious bowl of goodness – tofu, chickpeas, brown rice, veggies, and the most magnificently flavoured soy infused tahini. It was really good, and incredible value for money; it’s a deceptively large bowl!

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Personally, I’m a big fan of breakfast for lunch, and I’d been feeling a bit off and felt like something pretty simple, so I went with the poached eggs on sourdough with avocado and bacon ($15.00). The toast was pretty small, but other than that, I couldn’t complain! A surprisingly generous serving of avocado and bacon, perfectly poached eggs, happy days! I know bacon and eggs is pretty simple, but it really makes a difference when the ingredients are fresh – you can taste the difference, and that’s what made my lunch delicious.

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The cafe itself was fantastic – really cute little set up, gorgeous art work on the walls (all for sale too, if the wallet can stretch!), beautiful wooden tables and mismatched chairs. It did have the other hallmarks of a hipster establishment too, like the incredible looking smoothies served in mason jars, raw/vegan desserts in the window, and the communal cutlery-and-napkin-in-a-wooden-box set up. But, unlike a lot of hipster establishments, it didn’t have the attitude. It was warm and cosy, the service was friendly and welcoming; there was no elitist, too-cool vibes, which made it pretty great in my books.

The other thing that I absolutely LOVED was the fact that they serve a doggy’s breakfast – for only $3.50, your special furry friend can have their own bacon and sausage breakfast, too! I can’t wait to head back now with Marley, take him for a nice walk along the river, and treat him to some breaky while we eat ours 🙂 too cute! If you’re looking for a brunch spot this weekend, make your way on over to Cafe Zen Den – and if you have another favourite place to brunch, either in Melbourne or interstate or overseas, please let me know – I’m always looking for new places to try, both at home and on my travels!

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