A Tour of my Town and a Blogiversary Giveaway!

This giveaway has closed! Find out if you won!

One year ago today, I started this blog as a way to stay in touch with friends and family as I moved across the country to my new home in California. I had no idea that blogging would also become a means to connect with countless new friends around the world! Though my blogging has been a little -ahem- less than regular, I am still beyond excited with every post that goes live, every comment you guys take the time to write, and every kind word said to me about the joy my readers get out of my lil ol’ life. I’m not gonna lie, this past year has been tough, and this blog has been a place for me to both pretend everything’s alright and to vent and seek advice when it gets too hard.

Thank you, readers!!

So in honor of my “blogiversary,” I’d like to share a bit of my life here in California. Make sure you stay tuned to the end to find out how you can own your own piece of Venice!

My boyfriend, Marcus and I live in Venice, in Los Angeles, California. Have you ever seen “I Love You, Man,” “Valentine’s Day,” “Million Dollar Baby,” or “Speed?” How about “Californication,” “America’s Next Top Model,” or the new summer show, “Love Bites?” How about any movie and tv show set in LA? Most of them have at least a scene or two set in the legendary Venice Beach.

Venice, California is named for Venice, Italy. Venice was founded in the early 1900s by a man named Abbot Kinney, the namesake for the now-famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Having felt a strong affinity for Venice, Italy, Kinney decided to create his very own Italian oasis on America’s west coast. Several miles of canals were dug to mimic the famous canals of Venice. Originally you could travel the canals via gondola, but now people with canal-adjacent properties prefer to use canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats.

Property along the canal is very desirable and very expensive. Looking at the homes along the canal can be somewhat of a history lesson as there is a mix of one-bedroom beach cottages, angular, modern homes, and Spanish- and Italian-inspired mansions.

Just a few blocks away from the canals is the beach! Venice Beach is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, as well as local skateboarders, basketball players, and artists. You can walk along the path shown above to visit the famous Venice Skate Park.

Another popular sight is the Venice Boardwalk. Being a born-and-bred Jersey girl, when I first moved here, I was extremely confused by Venice’s “boardwalk.” At the Jersey Shore, boardwalks are made of wood and set high above the sandy beach. Apparently, this is how they do it in California! On the boardwalk here, you can browse local art, rent a bicycle, or even do a little yoga! There are also tons of street performers, tacky souvenir shops, and “medical” marijuana shops. I’m honestly always confused when I see families with young children vacationing here because it’s not exactly the most wholesome resort town.

But if you can get past the seediness, there is still a little beauty left in Venice! On the left here we have your typical tacky beach souvenir shop (and a smoke shop to the left), but if you look a bit closer at the building’s architecture, you can see some of the original carvings that were perhaps commissioned by Abbot Kinney himself! It’s a little sad to see what the town has become, but since going through terrible times filled with vandalism and crime in the 1970s and 1980s, the city has had quite the revitalization.

Where graffiti used to dominate seemingly every wall and surface in the city, local artists have painted beautiful, inspired works of art. These are two of my favorites, inspired by Starry Night and Venus on the Half-Shell. There are hundreds of amazing murals all over the city that are truly part of the city’s culture.

Among the vendors selling made-in-China jewelry and cell phone cases, there are some truly talented artisans selling their work on the boardwalk. Shortly after we moved into our house in August, Marcus and I met Gary John, whose art is shown above. Gary seems like a humble guy, using only cardstock and acrylic paint to create his tiny works of original art. We bought two for ourselves, which we hung in our bathroom.

I love the pop of tropical color they bring to the tiny, boring space. They are graphic and simple and just plain cool! So when I decided to do a giveaway for my blogiversary, I knew that a Gary John original would be a great prize to spread some Venice love to someone! This past Saturday, Marcus and I walked over to Gary’s space on the boardwalk and picked this one out for you!

I love the green “fishbones” piece that we have, and this yellow piece combined the silly fish with the cutest fat cat illustration! Gary told us that he has several cats at home and loves to paint his own interpretation of them. How would you like to be the proud new owner of this piece of Venice art?

You can earn up to two entries in this giveaway.

  1. Comment and tell me your favorite place you’ve ever visited or lived. I love hearing other people’s experiences and adding locations to my “Places to Visit Before I Die” list!
  2. Tweet OR Facebook about the giveaway. (Please note: I don’t have a public Facebook profile, this option is just to “even the field” for my friends and family that don’t tweet.) Comment a second time to let me know that you’ve done it!

You can use this tweet or make up your own:

I just entered Her New Leaf’s first blogiversary giveaway to win a piece of original art! http://wp.me/p1bBMk-aG

If you tweet, please leave your Twitter username in your comment so I can be sure to follow you – I love making new friends! You have until Friday, July 22 to enter this giveaway. The winner will be announced on Monday, July 25. Good luck!

I hope you all enjoyed my little tour of Venice. If I have inspired any of you to come for a visit, there is always room on our couch!

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19 Responses to A Tour of my Town and a Blogiversary Giveaway!

  1. Amy Faith says:

    Just two of my favorite Venice photos:

    I had a similar experience in Venice, being a Jersey boardwalk girl too. But I loved getting flashbacks from “American History X” and watching the performers. I also love the art too. I bought a little painting done by a tattoo artist there and it is currently hanging in my kitchen. Thanks for your virtual tour. I wish I had gotten to see the canals!

  2. Lori says:

    Great tour of your town! My favorite place so far is Hawaii. When we visited Maui, we thought it was incredible! Beautiful and loads of fun, too!
    Congrats on you blogiversary!

  3. Layla says:

    Venice Beach always makes me think of The Doors movie and The Lords of Dogtown, and both of those movies make me want to move to Venice Beach and be an awesome bohemian. Or at least, move to Venice Beach and DRESS like a bohemian.

    Anyway, I haven’t traveled much (sad!) so my pick for favorite place is 30-A in Florida, specifically, Santa Rosa, Alys Beach, and Seaside (where the Truman Show was filmed). They’re so idyllic, they make me hate my real life just a little.

    Cute giveaway!! I love the artist, very cool!

  4. joanne says:

    well kir, love your pics and the giveaway! happy blogiversary!
    the most beautiful place i visited had to be the bahamas, but the place i remember from my childhood is 1000 islands new york.

  5. joanne says:

    yo chica! i facebooked about yer giveaway!

  6. Suzula says:

    Loved reading all about Venice Beach and the photos are great. Sounds to me like it’s not a bad place to hang out for a while…
    My favorite place by far was the Australian Outback; my trip of a lifetime!!

  7. alicia says:

    happy blogiversary!!! i’ve always wanted to go back to the LA area to visit venice beach. you’ve made me even more intrigued to visit! my favorite place right now is London, I’ve actually been thinking of going back soon. First time I went was a random long weekend — I love that you can walk from place to place, meet awesome new people and potentially see the queen. miss you!

  8. Morgan says:

    Kira,
    Greaaaat post! I was only in California when I was very little, so I remember nothing. Thanks for such a detailed and lovely share! My favorite place to visit – inthe US – The Outer Banks. Outside the US – Negril Jamaica. ❤

  9. Jessica Lynn says:

    So far the best place I ever lived was Albuquerque, New Mexico. I love everything about it there. But! We are moving to Italy in two months, so I’ll have to let you know if my answer has changed 🙂

  10. Courtney says:

    Happy blogiversary!
    This was hard to think of, but my favorite place I’ve ever been is probably Alaska. I love how it’s always daytime in the summer and the scenery is SO beautiful!

  11. Katie says:

    Happy one year- Venice looks cool, and I love the print!

    My favorite place to visit would have to be Cape May, NJ. Maybe it’s just that I’m east-coast-and-beach-homesick at the moment, but I lovvvvvvve the colorful houses, and the small-town feel. Plus the ocean’s there. Outside of the U.S., the Cinque Terre were the most gorgeous towns I have ever seen. Worth a trip, I’d say.

  12. Hannah says:

    I went to Venice Beach last year to meet someone for dinner and LOVED it. I thought its personality was so unique and full of energy.

    Best place I’ve ever been? Zanzibar, hands down. Beautiful beaches, Aladdin-esque streets, delicious fish and the best sunsets in the world.

  13. Keelonce says:

    Happy blogiversary! Very cool. (The other day I came up with weddingversary until I realized that is just an anniversary.)
    The coolest place I’ve ever visited was Ireland. The landscape was lush and green and beautiful. The houses in the villages were so little but colorful. They reminded me of Skittles. My favorite spot in Ireland was the Cliffs of Moher – they are just breath-taking. I can’t wait to go back and visit my exchange family again!

    Anyways, keep up the good blogging work. I love reading what you are up to. Go on wit yo bad self!

  14. franjessica says:

    Happy Blogiversary! I think my favorite place I’ve visited was Barcelona. I loved the food, archetecture and lushness of the city. I also adored Obidos, Portugal. Jon and I spent my birthday there last year- it’s a beautiful old fortified city on top of a large hill/ small mountain, surrounded by lots of level farmland. Definitely a magical place to go… In the US, I’m partial to Shenandoah National Park, there are tons of beautiful hiking trails, lots of waterfalls, and I saw two black bears, a skunk, an owl, and lots of deer and chip munks while there.

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