Chocolate on Robertson

At the September 27 SORONC Townhall meeting about the Robertson Great Streets plans, I was impressed by the heartfelt speech of a young man, David, who introduced his handcrafted chocolate to the neighbors. They are open to the public on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm, and offer free samples. So yesterday I went to visit their factory, Letterpress Chocolate, at 2835 Robertson, the same storefront where Sue Leedom used to sell her Mollie’s Cookies, next to Fred’s Bakery, recently remodeled by new owner by Avi Kadmon.

David Menkes with a tray of cacao beans

Letterpress is a technique of relief printing from plates. David used to be a graphic artist, and does all the designs for his artisan chocolate packaging. The logo is inspired by an old US airmail stamp. It means that he comes from the mountains, flies all over the world and brings back chocolate beans.
His wife and daughter work at the family business, where they manufacture small batch, bean to bar, chocolate in different flavors, single sourced from small farms in Belize, Tanzania, Trinidad, Ecuador, etc.

David Menkes with wife Corey and their daughter

This reminds me of the Lavazza coffee that I have been drinking since moving to the US in 1972, to make sure that every morning as I wake up I smell and taste the same flavor I am used to, having grown up in Italy. I buy Lavazza at Bay Cities, World Market and Vons. It comes in cans and in 12oz bags in several flavors, plus 2 single origin coffees: Santa Marta, Columbia and Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. A couple of years ago I received a Nespresso machine as a birthday gift, but I load refillable pods with Lavazza. To me this Italian coffee beats the taste of the Swiss brand by far.

Stop by to meet David on Saturdays, taste the various samples, ask him to introduce you to his wife and daughter, who are busy in the back making and packaging the award-winning chocolate they ship all over the world. And if you wish to buy some bars of your favorite flavor, they cost $10 to $12 each.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Food Markets

The Santa Monica Coop, at 1525 Broadway since 1995, opened another location in Culver City. It’s called Coopportunity Market & Deli, it’s located at 8770 Washington Blvd and National.

Coop, Culver City

I went to check it out today and found a wide variety of choices, organic fruits and vegetables, grown without pesticides, grass-fed beef raised without antibiotics, cage free chicken wings, crusted wild salmon, hot pizza, poke bowls and much more. It has free underground parking and tables to sit and eat from their salad bar and cooked food selections.

Sprouts, Culver City

It is a welcome addition to the nearby Sprouts that opened last September at 8985 Venice Blvd and to Trader Joe’s at 9290 Culver Blvd.
The Coop is planning a Grand Opening celebration on September 9, don’t miss it.

Trader Joe’s, Culver City

I frequent many other food markets that offer salad bars, hot soups and prepared meals, such as Whole Foods at 11666 National Blvd and Barrington. Amazon already started lowering the prices today, after their recent acquisition.
Gelson’s in Century City, Bristol Farms at 3105 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica, Erewhon at 7660 Beverly Blvd and Fairfax LA 90036, Lassens at 710 S LaBrea and Wilshire.

I do love cooking my favorite recipes at home, and I constantly experiment with new dishes, but I also enjoy the quick satisfaction of trying different tasty and healthy foods prepared by others, while shopping for groceries at these markets.

Coop, Culver City

Click on all the red links for more info, please write your comments.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Reynier Park regulations

Reynier Park. Wooden pergolas

Loud and drunken parties have occasionally taken place at Reynier Park for years, however, since Nextdoor has made it possible for neighbors to communicate directly with each other on the Internet, the posts about the weekend invasion of our park have been numbering in the hundreds. It is also true that the size and frequency of these large gatherings in our small park has increased, and some of these events have been professionally catered.
Last year SORONC took notice and revived their Park Committee, RVNA members and residents attended several meetings and expressed their concerns. In October 2016 I was present as RVNA Co-President, when 6 LA Park and Recreation representatives promised new signage would be posted, in English and Spanish, so existing regulations would be made clear to park users, and enforceable. No amplified sound, no smoking, no alcohol, no bouncy houses, no catered events, no open flames, no tents, etc.
9 months later these signs have not yet been posted, but SORONC and RVNA are still committed to finding solutions and are organizing a ice-cream party Sunday July 30 at 2pm. Residents are invited to come and share ideas about the park.  SORONC (South Robertson Neighborhood Council) posted yard signs about “reimagining” Reynier Park, with weblink to a survey.

Reynier Park. Picnic, July 16

Actually many of us residents feel Reynier Park is great the way it is, and it is enjoyed daily by dozens of children and adults, with no improvements necessary. It is the invasion of hundreds of people on weekends that should be regulated. We have proposed that only 2 parties be allowed per day, of no more than 30 people each, under the wooden pergolas that provide shade and seating. No need to set up tents that occupy park space. A Park Ranger should be on call to enforce these regulations, allowing LAPD to respond to real crimes such as burglaries, robberies and murders.
See our earlier post on this blog.

RVNA Park Night, July 12

On the bright side, there were no large parties this past weekend, only a baby shower set up under a white tent with seating for less than 30 people. And last Wednesday RVNA, our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association, held a summer park night, a tradition that started in 2005. More than 30 residents walked over to one of the lovely pergolas and talked to each other face to face. What a concept in this era of Social Media…

We love our Reynier Park.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

 

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Enjoy South Robertson

Ivan Gallery. Art by Barbara Mendes

Sunday June 4, I walked 3 blocks from my home to South Robertson to experience the SORO Fest, a joyous community event in its 20th year, when this usually busy street between Cadillac and Cattaraugus is closed to traffic and SORO residents enjoy walking to the many restaurants and shops in our neighborhood.

I greeted my friends, at the booths for RVNA, SORONC, Hami Garden, and said hello to Barbara Mendes, who was teaching kids how to do chalk drawing on the sidewalk in from of Ivan Gallery.

Fred’s Bakery-Avi Kadmon.

I spoke with Avi, who bought Fred’s Bakery two years ago and recently completed a thorough remodel. This neighborhood favorite was opened in 1949 by Fred and Harriet; when Fred passed away in 1992, his children (Bob, Steve and Cecilia) ran it for 12 year, then sold it in 2005 when Cecilia (Cissy Klein) moved to Las Vegas.

Wonders Kids World. Julia, Natalie

I looked into the window of Wonders Kids World. They were closed today, but a couple of weeks ago I had met with Natalie, from Paris, France and Julia, from Yucatan, Mexico. They are devoted to teaching pre-school children French and Spanish in a fun way, through music and games.

Barbara Mendes painting Angel Wall. July 2012

You don’t have to wait another year to enjoy South Robertson, now dubbed the Great Emerald Blvd. These businesses are open most days of the week. Go have breakfast at Undergrind Cafe, lunch at Dolce Isola, dessert at Monaco Gelato, take home tasty Argentinian Empanadas or a heavenly green chile burrito from Campos. Check out the many programs the Relational Center has to offer. Enjoy art at the Ivan Gallery, decorated with the colorful and intricate murals painted by Barbara Mendes through the years. Explore all the places that she included in the map below.

For a list of our favorites click on the Robertson page of the RVNA website.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Reynier Park

During the past couple of weeks, we noticed several workers in orange vests and hard hats working on our Reynier Park, so we went to check and talk to them. They removed the old sidewalk and poured cement to build a new one all around the park, along Olin, Reynier and Hargis. They completed the job Friday April 28. They were employed by a private company called John S. Meek, hired by the Los Angeles Department of Street Services.


We are grateful for such improvement, however many Reynier Village resident wish that the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks would require permits for large picnics on weekends, catered affairs that bring over 200 people to our neighborhood, and would limit the parties to 2, to take place under the lovely wooden pergolas, and the number of party-goers to 20 for each party.


Also the erection of tents and bouncy houses are not allowed by existing park regulations, which should be enforced. In October 2016 the SORONC Board approved a resolution asking for new signs, in English and Spanish, spelling out all the regulations. We’ve been waiting 6 months, so we hope these signs will be posted soon.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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New Restaurants-Culver City

Baco Shop 17awWe were curious about several new restaurants that opened recently in downtown Culver City, replacing others that closed, so we took a walk, looked at their menus and sampled some of their food. We favored inexpensive and unpretentious establishments, offering healthy choices.
For example the baby kale salad at BACO SHOP (424) 258 6301, 9552 Washington Blvd, the grain bowl with black lentils at CAVA (23) 230 5027 , 9343 Culver Blvd, the Angry Avocado roll at RAMEN ROLL (310) 426 8926, 9900 Culver Blvd.
Ramen Roll 17-2awWe also indulged with the Chicken Karaage at TENTENYU (424) 603 4803, 3849 Main St. It was yummi (and boneless), much better (if not comparable) than HONEY KETTLE’S FRIED CHICKEN, rated number one in Los Angeles by LAist, Thrillist and Los Angeles Magazine (if you don’t mind waiting 30 minutes or more).

For a list of our favorite restaurants in Culver City check the RVNA website.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Native Gardens

Yes, Southern California experienced lots of rain this winter and the long drought may be ending, but that does not mean you should keep that water-thirsty lawn in front of your house.

Gibson garden (c) Elisa Leonelli

In 2009, when we started this blog, we were amazed at how many Reynier Village residents had replaced their turf with drought tolerant grasses and native plants in their front yard and parkway.
Many more residents took that step during the past few years, since LADWP (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) started their cash for grass program in 2009 and raised the rebate amount in 2014. So many people applied that those funds were quickly exhausted, and the Turf Removal Program waitlist was closed in November 2015.

Check SoCal Water $mart for available rebates on sprinkler nozzles, rain barrels, weather based Irrigation controllers, etc. or call 800-506 9073

Gibson garden (c) Elisa Leonelli

To get inspired about the kinds of landscape and plants you may choose to grow in your garden, take a look at the photos of the
Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour
Saturday and Sunday April 1 & 2, 10am to 5pm.

Search the LADWP Interactive database:
California Friendly Landscaping in Los Angeles

Or take a walk around Reynier Village and see what your neighbors have done.

Gibson parkway (c) Elisa Leonelli

We admired this front yard and parkway on Gibson, so we asked Lauren how she did it. “The yard used to be all grass. A couple of years ago I applied for the turf removal rebate and was accepted. I spoke to a few landscape artists, but they were asking far more than I was willing to pay, so happily my gardener Ernesto agreed to remove the grass and replace it with California native/drought tolerant plants: : Blue Finger, Fire Sticks, Aloe, Aeonium, Variegatum, etc. He did everything himself with his crew, I just gave him the specifications from LADWP’s rebate program (must be CA native, no rocks/gravel, sprinkler-drip system, etc). It really has come in quite nicely this Spring after the recent rains.”


Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Freeway Garden

Blue Lupine

This warm sunny morning, only one week away from the beginning of spring, I took a walk from my house to meet up with my neighbor Steven, who wanted to show me the colorful flowers blooming in his freeway garden.  For years now he has been planting a variety of native flowers, such as orange California poppies and blue lupines, inside the fence of the Santa Monica freeway next to his house. In 2003 our local journalist Martha Groves saw him engaged in this labor of love and wrote an article about him for the Los Angeles Times: Splendor blooms on the inhospitable ground next to Santa Monica Freeway.

10 Fwy-Bottlebrush

More often than not in our neighborhood the embankment along the 10 Fwy is littered with beer bottles thrown over the fence or illegally dumped bulky items. Several times during the past few years the dedicated volunteers of the Reynier Village (RVNA) and Helms Neighborhood Associations (Helms NA) have organized community clean-ups of this fenced area that is maintained by Caltrans. Click here to read a post on this blog.

Morning Glory

Steven says: “I hope people realize that, like the L.A. River before it was rediscovered, the freeway borders can be much more than an unused byproduct of a transportation system.  It’s valuable land that most people ignore.”
Take a walk along Regent Street between Cattaraugus and National, bring the kids for  a botany lesson, enjoy the super bloom of our Southern California spring after the heavy rains.
Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Freeway Garden-Lavatera bicolor

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Mansionization in Reynier Village

On March 1 the Los Angeles City Council approved new regulations, backed by Paul Koretz of Council District 5, to control the size of Mcmansions, large modern 2-story houses built on small lots, replacing quainter older homes in single-family neighborhoods.

8921 Hargis-2017 house, photo by Elisa Leonelli

8921 Hargis-2017 house, photo by Elisa Leonelli

The first of these mansions was recently built in Reynier Village at 8921 Hargis, in place of a small wooden home, that was sold on May 12, 2016 for $750,000.  The asking price of the new house is $1,750,000.  A tidy profit for this developer.
I actually like the architectural style of this modern structure, in comparison to the old 1,346 square feet house built in 1947.  However we have to be watchful so that massive houses towering over your homes are not built to change the character of our lovely village.

8921 Hargis-1947 home

8921 Hargis-1947 home

Here’s a message from local realtor Laura Anderson, president of the Faircrest Heights Neighborhood Association: “Our beloved neighborhood, with the charm of its architecture, is a hidden jewel, much like Reynier Village. Concerned residents rallied together to go to City Hall for the hearings on a regular basis. I encourage you to join forces and keep the integrity of your neighborhood.  I support change but we need to have guidelines in place.”
Check out the Facebook page of ‘No More Mcmansions in Los Angeles’ and sign the petition. Contact the SORONC Board and our District 10 Councilman Herb Wesson, so they may put pressure on City Hall to protect Reynier Village from mansionization.

To understand the changes in city regulations, you may read an article posted by Deni Mosser on Nextdoor.

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Robertson-Great Street

Tommy's Express Car Wash

Tommy’s Express Car Wash

Many residents were disappointed two years ago when South Robertson Boulevard was NOT included among the 15 “Great Streets” chosen by Mayor Eric Garcetti for transformation.  Last November SORONC (South Robertson Neighborhood Council) leaders applied for a $13,000 matching grant, with letters of support from RVNA (Reynier Village Neighborhood Association) and other community organizations, and on February 3, 2017 the Mayor confirmed that South Robertson (from Cadillac to Kincardine) is one of 7 additional Los Angeles Great Streets 2016.

2512 Robertson

2512 Robertson

I took a walk up and down Robertson a few days ago to see what’s new.  I spoke with Ari Cohen, the new owner of Fred’s Bakery who took over the  business 2 years ago, I checked out Tommy’s Express Car Wash, and I looked at the gated parking lot of 2512-2516 Robertson, a building left vacant for 30 years by an absentee landlady.  We wish she and her son would sell it already and allow a restaurant to open there. It would be a great addition to the existing eateries: Dolce Isola, Argentinian Empanadas, Campos, Monaco Gelato, Undergrind Cafe.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Pizza pop Up

Roberta’s Pizza (c) Elisa Leonelli

I was checking their website to see if Sweetgreen had opened at Platform in Culver City (it has), and saw this page about Roberta’s Pizza. I was born in Italy, so I’m always on the lookout for authentic Neapolitan pizza restaurants in LA, and the photos of these pizzas looked promising. So today I went for lunch with a friend, we ordered one pizza to share, the Bee Sting with spicy soppressata, and after the first bite we had to immediately order a second. To be fair, these pies are quite small. They had set up a shack under the Expo line bridge, with wooden tables in front, and placed their awesome clay pizza oven outdoors.  I asked how long they were going to be there and they said they are leaving in 10 days, February 12, drive the pizza oven back to the original Roberta’s in Brooklyn. I told them that the parking lot for the Expo across the street would close on February 14, for construction of a commercial and residential complex, and they said, “We’re leaving just in time, then.”

Sweetgreen (c) Elisa Leonelli

We also did check out Sweetgreen, where you can get healthy salads, warm bowls, and fruit juices, made from local organic ingredients.
Platform is at 8840 Washington Blvd, Culver City 90232. See post on this blog.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Romantic Bookstore

It was only a few days ago, while reading an article in Los Angeles Magazine about the 14 Best Mom and Pop bookstores in L.A., that I discovered The Ripped Bodice, A Romantic Bookstore, in downtown Culver City.  It opened March 4, 2016, after a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $90,000.  It’s the dream project of two sisters, Bea, 27, and Leah, 25, smart and accomplished young women. Leah graduated from USC in Visual and Performing Arts, Bea studied Fashion History at NYU, her master thesis was titled “Mending the Ripped Bodice.”

Bea, photo (c) Elisa Leonelli

Bea (c) Elisa Leonelli

I was so intrigued that I immediately contacted the sisters. Bea graciously received me and answered my questions. “Bodice Rippers” is a term used for erotic romance novels of the 1970s and 80s. Bea said they wanted to poke fun at that popular perception, and immediately communicate to their fans, “This store is for you.” “Sex is not something that we should be ashamed or embarrassed about, we all come from sex. It’s completely insane to me the way sex is discussed in this country, and all these issues that women are facing right now.  We’ve reverted into this dark age.”
Their store carries all sub-genres in the romance novels category, from paranormal to LGBTQ, and they host community events. “Thursday December 15, 8pm, is our monthly romantic comedy night, and this month we are collecting travel size toiletries to donate to women shelters in Los Angeles.”

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The store is huge and bright, decorated like a comfortable home, with armchairs and couches for reading, books are piled up everywhere. Get over there, it’s well worth a visit.

The Ripped Bodice: 424-603 4776
3806 Main St. Culver City, CA 90232

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Halloween

Bedford St (c) Elisa leonelli

Bedford St (c) Elisa Leonelli

Reynier Village celebrated Halloween with many neighborhood activities. Residents decorated their homes with pumpkins, skeletons and graves, kids went out trick or treating dressed in scary costumes.  The Relational Center on Robertson held a party for the community. RVNA (Reynier Village Neighborhood Association) organized a costume parade in Reynier Park on Sunday morning.

RVNA parade © Kimberly Villatoro

The history of this celebration is rooted in the Celtic tradition of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season. People dressed in costumes to disguise themselves from spirits, who they believed came back to life to kill their crops. They went door to door to ask for food to offer the ghouls in exchange for mercy.” (watch video in Time online)
October 31 is the night before All Saints Day, a Catholic holiday set by the Church for November 1 to discourage this pagan belief, thereby the name Halloween is short for All Hallows Eve.  All Souls Day is November 2, when Catholics visit the tombs of their dearly departed.  In Mexico and Latin America the Day of the Dead is a huge 3-day festival.

Elisa Leonelli

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Sprouts is here!

sprouts-w

I have been shopping at Sprouts for years, ever since they opened their first Los Angeles area store on Sepulveda at Jefferson in 2010. I was glad when they took over a location on Westwood Blvd, since that is closer to my regular routes. Recently I tried their new LaBrea store at Willoughby.  So I was very excited today to finally shop at their latest store on Venice Blvd, so close to my neighborhood.  It’s a place where I already go often, to shop at Trader Joe’s, or the sadly departed Office Max, to watch movies at the new Arclight Cinemas, to eat at my favorite restaurants in downtown Culver City, like EnjoyEat.

vegetables

I did my regular shopping, I love their Strouds brand of gelato, their heirloom tomatoes, their nuts, lentils and beans in bulk, their salad bar, their home-made sausages. But this was a special day.  The atmosphere was festive, with frequent buzzing sounds, just like at the slot machines in Las Vegas, when every 15th customer won a booklet of coupons.  They were giving away green recyclable bags and passing out sushi tastings.  You can also see the discounts on their website.

Sprouts. 8985 Venice Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 (424) 361-6611

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Gelato on Robertson

Luca Monaco 1w

Monaco- Fabbrica di Gelato finally opened on Friday September 2 at 2633 Robertson Blvd. 203-979 6346.  Their hours are Thursday to Sunday from 12 noon to 8pm.
Residents of Reynier Village and Castle Heights already love walking over there to taste this delicious ice-cream freshly made Italian style, in flavors like Cappuccino, Hazelnut, Tiramisu, Gianduia, etc.
Many neighbors contributed to the Kickstarter campaign that by May 2 had reached the $10,000 goal in only 2 weeks. The work to refurbish the old store was completed 4 months later.
This is a labor of love from a passionate young man, Luca Monaco. He was raised in Montreal by his French mother and Italian father, and now lives in Santa Monica.

Welcome Luca. Benvenuto.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Dolce Isola is Capri

Dolce Isola 4sWe enjoy having Dolce Isola on Robertson, the bakery of the Ivy restaurant; they serve breakfast, sandwiches, salads and ice-cream.  The downstairs space is way too small, but they do have a few more quiet tables upstairs. Ever since they opened in 2007 we sometimes order their pricey food for the summer park nights organized by our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association, where neighbors get together to eat, chat and have fun.  This week I wanted to get cookies from Dolce Isola for the last park night of 2016, since we had bought them from Fred’s Bakery on Robertson and Grand Casino in Culver City for the other park nights.  But I was unhappy that they only had one choice: chocolate chip cookies, so I bought Tiramisu instead.  I adore this delicious Italian custard, that literally means “pick me up” and I make it myself with soft mascarpone cheese.  The Dolce Isola version was so fabulous that many people attending the social evening asked for seconds.  Only after I got home I noticed the green design on the paper bag.  The Isola=island that is so sweet=dolce, is Capri, off the coast of Naples.  The descriptions read in Italian: the island of Love, the island of Sun, Arrivederci a Capri=let’s meet again in Capri.

Isola-Capri 1sDolce Isola 3s

So if you can’t travel to the real place in Italy, you should go to our local Dolce Isola at 2869 Robertson and have a leisurely good time, Italian style.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Culver City summer

Kirk Douglas Theatre (c) Elisa Leonelli

Kirk Douglas Theatre (c) Elisa Leonelli

Yesterday I checked out the Summertini event in Culver City. I discovered that the name means small tastings of martinis, vodka mixed with different fruit juices.  They were served in tiny (tini) plastic cups, not only at restaurants, but also at art galleries (The Whole 9) and a gift shop (Lundeen).  My favorite place turned out to be Grilliant, because they offered me a full size Winetini in a real glass.  The best location was the Kirk Douglas Theater lobby, where tea, not alcohol, was available and a platter of assorted cheeses and fruit.  I had seen an amusing play there in April, Women Laughing Alone with Salad, and I loved the atmosphere.  They had a backdrop set up where photographs of audience members were taken holding fake salad bowls in front of virtual scenery. Very cool. Take a look at their fall/winter season.
The Third Wednesday event for August 17 is called Tropical Staycation.  It’s the 5th annual Spiked Tropical Punch Tasting, so check it out.
Free summer concerts have been taking place for years in the courtyard at City Hall. Tonight July 21 it’s Latin Salsa dancing rhythms.  See program for the upcoming Thursdays: July 28, August 4 and 11.  Our favorite way to enjoy these evenings is to sit at Hikari across the street and listen to the music, while eating sushi and drinking sake.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Culver City Hall (c) Elisa Leonelli

Culver City Hall (c) Elisa Leonelli

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Platform on Washington

Platform

Platform

Last week, after picking up the delicious Gazpacho soup from Smart Simple Gourmet at 3731 Robertson, I took a walk on Washington Blvd going East. This used to be a long stretch of road with no shops, mostly occupied by car dealerships, but recently a fancy shopping mall called Platform has been constructed and opened in March. A desirable location, especially now that the Expo Line has been extended to Santa Monica. The Culver City station is right across the street.

Aesop

Aesop

Some of the shops have yet to open, but there are quite enough interesting places to warrant a visit. So I went back the following day to explore and take some pictures. I watched families with small children play in the numerous sitting areas bordered by drought tolerant landscaping, I saw customers with their laptops lounge on various terraces, I noticed an event organized by the LA Film Festival at the photo studio Lightbox, I walked into SoulCycle and thought I might like to try this type of exercise, I chatted with the salespeople at Aesop, skin care products, and they offered me a cup of tea.

Loqui

Loqui

I had a tasty lunch at Lochi, Mexican tacos and quesadillas wrapped in their home-made flour tortillas.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee

I asked the girls at Blue Bottle Coffee if they could make me a cappuccino Italian style, all milk foam with espresso poured on top, and they did. I was pleased.

Juices Served Here

Juices Served Here

So I went back again the following day with a friend, we had dinner and drinks at Cannibal, ice cream at Van Leeuwen. We walked into some of the shops. At IDV (Ilan Dei Venice), we learnt that all the outdoor furniture at Platform is made by them.

Mural by Jen Stark

Mural by Jen Stark

The Platform is in walking or bicycling distance from Reynier Village, but they also have a parking structure on Landmark Street, first 2 hours free. It’s in the building with the rainbow murals by artist Jen Stark, that also houses São Açaí, smoothies and bowls, and Cannibal, butcher shop and restaurant.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Expo to Santa Monica

Expo train to Santa Monica

Expo train leaves Culver City to Santa Monica

We have been waiting anxiously for four years, since the Expo Line from Robertson and Venice to Downtown LA opened in June 2012, and now the opening day (announced February 29) of the Expo Metro line to Santa Monica is finally here:  Friday May 20.  The celebration and free rides continue on Saturday May 21.
We have been watching test trains pass by for months, with the crossing bars going down and the lights flashing, on Bagley and National. But soon we will actually be ON the train on our way to the beach.  We can’t wait.

Culver City Expo Station

Culver City Expo Station

So today I went to explore the Culver City station, took some photos, spoke with a guard.  I noticed that the bridge over Venice Blvd is divided in the middle, with the train tracks running in opposite directions separately.  I saw, then asked to confirm, that trains already travel all the way from here to Santa Monica and back, except they carry no passengers. The signage still indicates only the Eastbound direction to downtown LA, but will soon read: Westbound to Santa Monica.

Train from downtown LA continues empty to Santa Monica

Train from downtown LA continues empty to Santa Monica

When you do ride the train, for free, on May 20 and 21, and stop at some of the 7 new Expo stations: Palms, Westwood/Rancho Park, Sepulveda, Bundy, 26th St/Bergamot, 17th St/S Monica College, to Downtown Santa Monica, at 4th and Colorado, please email photos and comments to reyniervillage@earthlink.net and we’ll post then here.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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1920s Jazz club

Cotton Club, Culver City

Cotton Club, Culver City – Los Angeles Library Photo

While reading the online newspaper LAist, we learned about the Cotton Club by Frank Sebastian, that opened in 1926 in Culver City, during the Prohibition era (1919 to 1933), and operated until 1938.  Located at 6500 Washington, it offered valet parking, three dance floors, full orchestras, dinner and breakfast, plus secret gambling rooms.  Modeled after the jazz club by the same name in Harlem, New York, it catered to white customers only and featured bands of black musicians. Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, and Louis Armstrong played there often.
Culver City was a neighborhood popular with movie stars, because it housed M-G-M, the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, from 1924 to 1986, and the Thomas Ince Studios, built in 1918, that became the Cecil De Mille studios in 1925, RKO-Pathé Studios in 1928, and Selznick Pictures in 1935. Renamed Culver Studios in 1970, it’s located at 9336 Washington Blvd. The MGM studios at 10202 Washington Blvd were bought by Sony Pictures in 1990, and beautifully restored.

Cotton Club by Francis Coppola

Cotton Club by Francis Coppola

Cotton Club, the 1984 movie by Francis Coppola, starring Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Gregory Hines and Lonette McKee, is set in the New York City’s Cotton Club. Duke Ellington’s was the orchestra in residency there from 1927 to 1930, then Cub Calloway’s band played from 1931 to 1934.  The jazz club and speakeasy operated in Harlem from 1923 to 1936, then it was moved downtown to Broadway and 48th St (from 1936 to 1940), after the Harlem Race Riot of 1935, because that neighborhood no longer felt safe for whites.

Cotton Club, New York

Cotton Club, New York

Why the name cotton?  Because the club decor was designed to evoke a plantation environment.  In Culver City silent movie star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle built his Plantation Cafe, at 11700 Washington Blvd, in 1928.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

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Smart Food

Smart-w

After my first juice cleanse in June 2014, I started incorporating cold pressed vegetable juices into my daily diet, which I found an easy way to add nutrients. There are SO many places selling these juices all over town now, that I must not be the only one devoted to this kind of healthy eating.
The closest to Reynier Village is a small window at 3731 Robertson, south of Venice, across from FEDEX.  Juices Served Here had their production facility there and I would stop by often. Then one day, a couple of months ago, I had to do a double-take, because the juice menu had changed. A new company had moved into this location, Renew Juicery.  Shortly after that, I received an email from Linda, the chef-owner of Smart Simple Gourmet, that they started selling their healthy menu items out of this same window.  I had discovered the delicious food cooked by Linda at the Culver City Farmers Market on Tuesdays, where she had stand for years, but for the past couple of years she only sells at the Mar Vista Farmers Market on Sundays.  So now I can get juices and gourmet meals from the same place nearby.  Very convenient. Check it out!

Renew-w

Text by Elisa Leonelli

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Arcana-Helms Bakery

Aline Smithson

Last Saturday afternoon I attended an event at the Arcana bookstore in the Helms Bakery District. I was intrigued by the photographer, Aline Smithson, who was signing her new book, Self & Others: Portrait as Autobiography. My curiosity was rewarded, because Aline turned out to be an interesting woman, and her book is amazing.
“Beginning with her earliest black and white silver gelatin prints, she photographs the world around her considering the poignancy of childhood and the pathos of aging and relationships. The photographer considers all her portraits a reflection of herself and the stories she wants to tell, and in that way, has created a visual language that is her own unique autobiography.”

Helms Bakery, murals

Helms Bakery, murals

I then walked around and discovered something I had not noticed before, murals reproducing old photographs of the bread delivery trucks, on the wall by the valet parking. And that the furniture store Plummers is now called Scandinavian Designs.

Click on our previous post about the Helms Bakery and go there to explore yourselves, then please comment on your favorite places.

Text  and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Wilde Thistle

Wilde ThistleWilde Thistle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Sunday afternoon we visited a lovely Irish-Scottish Cafe and Pub (for Artists, Writers, Thinkers & Lovers), at the corner of Motor and Palms, named after Oscar Wilde, the national poet of Ireland, and the Thistle, the national flower of Scotland.  Inside we found the most pleasant atmosphere (they also have an outdoor table), with a trio of musicians playing Irish music (two women on the fiddle, a man alternating between a flute and a concertina). Behind the bar a small TV was playing the FIFA World Cup football game between US and Japan.
It’s a family place run by Caite Wallace, daughter Ciara, sons Liam and Brennan.  They have Happy Hour from 3 to 7pm from Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday), with draft beers at $5, soup+grilled cheese at $5, a trio of sliders for $7.  The art on the walls is by Steve O’Loughlin and it’s inspired by Celtic designs.

The Wilde Thistle Cafe: 310-730 6208
3456 Motor Ave, Los Angeles CA 90034

Please check it our and write your comments!

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

P.S. Sadly this place closed after one last performance April 10, 2016

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SORO Fest

Fire truck

Today we participated in one of our neighborhood’s most popular events, the 18th annual street festival on South Robertson Blvd.
The LA Fire Department was out in force with 2 giant firetrucks parked on Beverlywood, and numerous firemen talking to people and distributing information about their free CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) classes.

We bought some plants from the HAMI Garden booth.

We talked to the many volunteers from the Relational Center, that recently moved to 2717 Robertson: 323-935 1807.  You should definitely check out the many programs they offer, counseling, yoga, mediation, etc.

We had a healthy bowl of superfood like kale and quinoa from the Green Truck: 310-204 0477.  At last year SORO Fest they received the Outstanding Green Citizenship Award, from SORONC Green Team.

Check the Art Map below and support the businesses on South Robertson all year round!

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

 

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Robertson Map

We just received this lovely map of the businesses on South Robertson Blvd, designed by our local artist, Barbara Mendes.

Check out the alphabetical listing in the Robertson page of our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association website.

Patronize these shops, galleries, eateries, in walking distance of our home.

Email us your comments.

Thanks!

Elisa Leonelli

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Movies in the park

Movies-park 15s

Last night we went to check out this new event in our neighborhood.

Street Food Cinema presents summer movie nights in nearby Syd Kronenthal Park in Culver City, at the end of McManus Ave, South of Washington Blvd, walking distance from Reynier Village, once a month for five weeks, starting May 16, doors open at 5.30pm, movies at 8.30.

See schedule for more info and prices
Food trucks provide the food

At 6pm many families armed with chairs and blankets (it was cold) were arriving.  It’s hard to find a spot in the small parking lot of the park, and a sign warns NOT to park in the neighboring streets.  Parking is provided at 5780 Jefferson Blvd.  Better to walk or bicycle.

Please let us know if you attend any of these movies, send your comments.
Thanks

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Undergrind Cafe

Rachel Sazon

Rachel Sazon

After running our of money in June, when they were planning to open their café on South Robertson, Ron and Rachel Sazon launched a successful crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter and raised the additional $12,000 they needed.  They finally opened their doors on October 25.
When we stopped by today, on a Sunday morning, the place was lively with customers and had been decorated with art, a table in the back, stools and high chairs in the front.  WiFi is available. Various types of coffees and teas are served, also enticing breakfast and lunch daily specials.
Undergrind Cafe: 323-868 1703, 2713 S Robertson Blvd
Welcome to Reynier Village!

See listing of South Robertson businesses on our RVNA website

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Juices for health

Fruits and Vegetables Juicer

After hearing about it from friends, a few months ago I decided to try a juice cleanse, not only to lose a few pounds, but for overall health.  I was cautioned that this should not be attempted without the guidance of a nutritionist, so I consulted Sirena, who had come highly recommended.  Check out her website www.sirenapellarolo.com

I did not want to make my own cold-pressed vegetable juices, since there are so many places offering this service everywhere, now that juicing is a hot trend.  I tried a few and was especially happy with these 2 sources.

JUICE SERVED HERE
They have a “window” in our neighborhood at their production facility
3731 S. Robertson, Culver City 90232 (across from Fedex, South of Venice Blvd)

THE RAW JUICERY
Sold at various farmers markets (cheaper at $20 for 3 juices in plastic bottles)

What I discovered is that juicing is a great way to add more raw vegetables to your daily diet, in combination with a variety of foods, raw and cooked, vegan choices and lean proteins (from animals raised without antibiotics).

Please send us your own experiences with healthy diet regimens.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

 

P.S. Pressed Juicery is the cheapest with deals like $20 for 4 juices or $29.50 for 6. They have many locations.
.Juices Served Here has moved from Robertson, it was replaced by Renew Juicery.
You can find them in the food court of the Century City Shopping Center.
Read our 2016 post Smart Food.

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Robertson clean-up

Crestview clean 1s

 

The Crestview Neighborhood Association organized a cleanup of Robertson Blvd, from Pickford to Sawyer, Sunday September 7 starting at 7.30am.

Today at 10 am the Reynier Village Neighborhood Association sponsored a clean-up of the Fwy embankment outside and inside the fence of Beverlywood St between Garth and Holt. In less than an hour, with twelve RVNA members and volunteers working together, the area was free of garbage.

We would like to remind Reynier Village residents that it’s every homeowner’s responsibility to clean the parkway and sidewalk along your property.

Thanks for your help in keeping our neighborhood free of trash.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli
RVNA Communications

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Neighborhood clean-up

Helms 14-1s

Sunday August 17, the Helms Neighborhood Association organized a community trash clean up and tree trimming of the Santa Monica 10 Freeway embankment along Regent Street. Cal Trans workers were also there replacing parts of the old fence.  More than 50 residents showed up to volunteer for this effort.  Councilman Herb Wesson’s office provided the tools.  3 members of the Reynier Village Neighborhood Association removed garbage from the Freeway embankment and alley between Cattaraugus and Bedford.
LA City street sweepers and Cal Trans crews are not sufficient to keep our neighborhoods clean, so residents should get together and do it themselves. It’s good practice for when we will have to help each other in case of an earthquake, since fire and police departments will be too overwhelmed.

Please support RVNA, become a member. Thanks

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli
RVNA Communications

Helms 14-6s

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Eatalian

EatJoy

I had discovered Eatalian last year (October 6, 2013), when the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West (IACCW) organized “Piazza Italia” at Ciclavia, a taste sampling of Authentic Italian restaurants, in a downtown pedestrian area near Grand Park. I had tasted their delicious ice-cream, and was delighted to find out that they were planning to open a location in Culver City. The main location of Eatalian Cafe is in Gardena, where they also have ExEat.
I had forgotten about this, until I found their business card and called them. They had indeed opened a cafe, EnoyEat Espresso, and a restaurant, EnjoyEat Classico, in an alley next to the Pacific movie theaters in downtown Culver City.  I went there to eat pizza last Saturday night, and was not disappointed; their gelato, cappuccino flavor, was out of this world.  It reminded me of the Coppa del Nonno that I used to love as a child in my hometown of Modena.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

 

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Wine Tasting

Polly-Bar and Garden 2s

During one of our exploratory walks along that stretch of Washington Blvd between National and La Cienega, that has been blossoming with new restaurants, shops and art galleries for the past few years, we discovered a gem:  Bar and Garden, a unique liquor store that specializes in artisan products, AND offers wine tastings twice a week: Tuesdays from 5-8 and Sundays from 2-6
We checked it out today and found the atmosphere very pleasant. The girl at the bar was quite friendly, as she poured 3 samples of French wines from the Loire Valley.  We enjoyed the delicious amuse-bouches: olives and cheeses with fresh bread.
Bar and Garden: 310-876 0759
6142 Washington Blvd. Culver City 90232

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Asian fusion

PEI WEI lettuce wraps

PEI WEI lettuce wraps

 

We were delighted to find out that a new location of PEI WEI had opened in Culver City, close to our Reynier Village neighborhood, so we went to try it out.
We had liked their place in Beverly Hills, but this venue was even nicer, with windows that let in the daylight and outdoor tables on the terrace, in a new mini-mall at the corner of Sepulveda and Washington Blvd.
They serve Asian fast food: Thai, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, their specialty are the lettuce cups (a favorite item of their parent restaurant P.F. Chang) and they come in 3 different versions. Definitely yummi. Check it out!

Don’t forget to consult the Restaurants page of our Reynier Village website for more of our favorites and email us yours.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

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Blue Buddha

Bouquet

During one of my walks to greet new businesses opening up in our neighborhood, I discovered that a lovely photography studio recently opened at 2803 Robertson Blvd. It has the evocative name of Blue Buddha Studio.

So I walked in and spoke with photographer Kerem Hancy. He works with a partner, Jennifer Castle, and they specialize in portrait and wedding photography.
Check out Kerem’s website to take a look at his portfolio and see him in action.

The studio space is also available for rental.  Give them a call: 424-835 0454

Text by Elisa Leonelli

P.S. Studio closed.  Contact photographers at their websites

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Robertson mural

mural 1s

On one on my walks around the neighborhood, I discovered this bright new mural, on the side wall of the liquor store on Robertson, corner Gibson St.  The signature reads Beautify Robertson/septerhed1@gmail.  We located the website and contacted Sept. He said he paints these small projects for free to give the gift of art to the community, to bring life and dialogue to our city streets.
We also found this article in the current issue of Los Angeles Magazine.
To beautify South Robertson has always been one of the goals of our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association, and that is why we created a Robertson page on our website, to promote the establishments that make our neighborhood more friendly and enjoyable.
Please send us your comments and suggestions!

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Mural 2s

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Shop on Robertson

pears

A few weeks ago, during one of my walks, I discovered that an elegant new shop had opened on Robertson at 2613. So I walked in and chatted with the proprietor, Shannon Colburn, and her son Conor, who created their lovely website www.ShannonColburn.com. They had recently moved to this store-front location and are now open to the public for a walk-in visit to their showroom of household decorative items from their extensive collection of accessories, African woodcarvings, paintings, furniture, lamps, pillows and more.
They will extend a 20% discount to Reynier Village residents, so be sure to visit this new shop that we welcome to our neighborhood.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

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Art Space on Robertson

Untitled by Caryl St. Ama

Untitled by Caryl St. Ama

 

 

A new community art space and print studio opened in our neighborhood
PHLAT PHILE at 2805 Robertson: 323-744 7222

On June 2, at the SORO Festival, they launched a group exhibition called “1 Degree of Separation” featuring various artists who work on paper.
Their mission is to provide artists with technical support for their print-based projects and offer collectors moderately prices printworks under $1,000.

Check out their website for more info

We welcome them to Reynier Village!

Text by Elisa Leonelli

P.S. Art Gallery closed. Contact them through their website.

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Jacaranda

Jacaranda 2s

Dozens of jacaranda trees have been blossoming in Reynier Village for the past few weeks, their violet purple flowers brightening the neighborhood and blanketing our streets; but they will soon be gone, so you may wish to walk around and enjoy them now!

Although not a native plant (it was first introduced to California in 1892), the jaracanda mimosifolia is beloved in literature by authors writing about by Los Angeles, such as Anais Nin, Raymond Chandler, Joan Didion. Click here for excerpts.
And often mentioned by Los Angeles writers, such as Kate Braverman, who left L.A. for San Francisco, and Eve Babitz, who named Jacaranda the protagonist of her 1979 novel Sex and Rage.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

P.S. Read in LAIST about botanist Kate Sessions (1857-1940), who introduced jacarandas and 140 other warm-weather plants to Southern California.

 

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FARMERS MARKETS

FarmersM1

We are lucky to have so many farmers markets nearby, and we already recommended the closest, on La Cienega at 18th Street within walking distance of Reynier Village, Thursdays from 2 to 7pm.
But our favorite is the Culver City Farwers MarketCulver City Farmers market, now on Main Street between Venice and Washington Blvd, Tuesdays from 3 to 7pm. They not only have a variety of  fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms, but a real find.  A lovely young woman cooks healthy and delicious dishes for you to take home. Check out her weekly menu at Smart Simple Gourmet, pick them up and get ready for a real treat. She has a stand at the Mar Vista Farmers Market as well, on Grand View at Venice Blvd, Sundays 9am to 2 pm.
On Sunday mornings we also like the little market on Melrose Place East of La Cienega, and the newest, the Motor Ave Farmers Market on National.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

farmersM2

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Good Karma Gardens

Good Karma 3s

Our good neighbor who grows bananas in his backyard, tipped us off about the Good Karma Gardens (GKG) in Mar Vista. They provide free guidance for people who wish to grow sustainable food in their backyard. Check it out!

Visit over 100 gardens, to learn about drought-tolerant landscapes, edible gardens, rainwater capture and more, during the

5th annual
Mar Vista GREEN GARDEN Showcase
Sunday April 20 from 10am to 4pm

Get inspired to start similar initiatives in Reynier Village.
Please let us know if you volunteer to do this and we’ll help you organize it.

Thanks!

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Casa Rocha

Casa Rocha 2

For years I had heard stories about this cluster of homes on Shenandoah Street, down a tree lined path from an old sign that says “Casa Rocha.”  So finally I decided to do an Internet search and I was delighted to find a website page about “Rocha Adobe” with a lengthy description of the history of this house, which was built in 1865 by Jose Antonio Rocha, designated Historical-Cultural Monument in 1963, and restored in 1979.
There are many fascinating stories about the history of our neighborhood, Reynier Village.
Please send us the ones that you know and we’ll post them.

Thanks!

Elisa Leonelli

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New Culver City Restaurants

Wildcraft

Wildcraft

We had been waiting for months to see the new LYFE KITCHEN-Love Your Food Everyday, open in Culver City, after seeing their name on the boarded up storefront, and that event finally took place this week.  I had read a LA Weekly review of WILDCRAFT, another new restaurant that opened on Monday February 25, and was anxious to try it, so I took a walk over there yesterday at lunchtime.  There was a long line waiting to eat at Lyfe Kitchen, in fact all the restaurants were crowded with happy diners enjoying the warm weather at outdoors tables lined up along the wide sidewalks.  So I decided to have the porchetta panino at Wildcraft and I was not disappointed; it did not resemble the suckling pig that is a popular street food in Rome, and it has become quite a fad in Los Angeles restaurants, but it was quite tasty.  I can’t wait to go again with friends to try their pizzas cooked in a traditional brick oven made in Naples.
For a complete list check the Culver City restaurant page of our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association website, and kindly send us your comments.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Reynier Village-South Robertson

Mural by Ricky

Mural by Ricky (c) Elisa Leonelli

Reynier Village was featured on Departures-KCET, an online exploration of Los Angeles neighborhoods.
See above the murals in the alley between Reynier Ave and Shenandoah Street.

South Robertson was also explored.
See below Barbara Mendes painting a wall of her gallery at 2701 Robertson Blvd.

Barbara Mendes

Barbara Mendes

For a list of businesses with addresses, phone numbers and websites, see the Robertson page of our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association website.

Have fun with the interactive mural, watch photos and videos, read about the history of the Santa Monica Fwy, the Beverlywood Swim School, Hamilton High School, explore our nearby neighborhoods Beverlywood, Castle Heights and more…

Watch 6 videos of Doug Fitzimmons, SORO NC President.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

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Garden nurseries

Fuchsia, Veronica, Geranium, Aeonium, Tibouchina

Fuchsia, Veronica, Geranium, Aeonium, Tibouchina

As we were searching for plants to replace the old bamboo and create our new garden, we visited several nurseries. Here’s a list of some we liked.

Rolling Greens in Culver City, 9528 Jefferson Blvd, was the most amazing.  Too expensive for us to buy anything there, but great for looking at gorgeous specimens and get ideas.  You must check out their retail store at 7505 Beverly Blvd, they have beautiful items for your home and garden.
Grow Native in Westwood, 100 Davis Ave, is the perfect place to find drought-tolerant plants native to California.  Call for directions: 424-234 0481.
Two Dog Organic Nursery, 914 Cloverdale, is the perfect place to visit if you wish to start a vegetable garden, and they will give you plenty of expert advice as well.
Hashimoto Nursery, 1953 Sawtelle Blvd, is a traditional Japanese nursery with impeccable plants.
Yamaguchi Bonsai Nursery, 1905 Sawtelle Blvd., has a section devoted to California Natives.
Armstrong Garden Center, 3226 Wilshire in Santa Monica.  They offer gardening classes, and a lifetime guarantee for their fruit trees.

We picked a selection of fruit trees, shrubs and flowers, with the help of Sammy Lyon, permaculture designer and garden educator.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Avocado, white sage, Senetti Blue, geranium

Avocado, white sage, Senetti Blue, geranium

Meyer lemon, geranium, monkeyflower

Meyer lemon, geranium, monkeyflower

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Redwood fence

I had seen inventive redwood fences with horizontal slats around the neighborhood (Holt and Halm), so, when it came to replace the old wood fences behind the thick bamboo hedge we had removed, I inquired about those custom choices, but they proved too expensive.  I settled for pre-assembled 6×8 feet dog-ear panels from Lowe’s; they only cost $70.31 each.  Then the lattice panels would be nailed on top to reach the more desirable 8-feet height and still conform to LA City codes.  I only discovered later, after the fence was built, that they had bought common not premium grade panels from Home Depot for $54.97 a piece. It would have cost only $150 more (out of a $10,000 total expense) to get the better quality panels, but I was never informed of this change.  Eventually, after the fence was painted with a transparent redwood stain to protect the wood from heat and humidity, it looked better, but you can still see through the knot holes.
Another problem that was too late to fix was that the landscape designer had assured me that the fence would all be the same height, even though one of the neighboring lots was higher than the other; but they did not adjust for the difference, so now I have a 6 inches gap where the 2 sides meet.
I was inexperienced and did not pay close enough attention, I trusted that the people I hired knew what they were doing. So I’m writing this warning for you to be more careful, if you attempt a similar project.  Please keep us posted if you do.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Bamboo removal


I chose Larry Hess of Bloom Landscaping to clean up my bamboo hedge, remove the morning glory and replace a portion of the decaying picket fence, because I knew him from the SORO Green Team. With Paula Waxman he had designed the Hami Garden and organized the planting of new trees on Robertson.  But we had not foreseen the necessity of removing the bamboo entirely, which in turn forced us to replace the entire length of the old wood fence behind it; so the timing was somewhat backwards.  The carpenters had already been booked for the weekend, but it took 8 gardeners working for 2 days to rip out by hand that huge amount of bamboo (see post), so they decided to leave the spare live strands standing, because digging up all the roots would have taken too long.  That’s how it happened that the new redwood fence was built first, then some time later the gardeners came back to finish the job of uprooting the bamboo.  Bamboo shoots are surely going to sprout back in some parts of the garden, and the morning glory will keep coming over to my side from my neighbor’s backyard, so we’ll have to keep a close watch.

If you wish to remove these invasive plants, here’s some tips.

How to Kill a Bamboo Plant.
Morning Glory, a vine type weed.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Halloween

The Reynier Village Neighborhood Association hosted their annual Halloween party in Reynier Park today.  A jazz band played and lead the costume parade, pizza was served, kids had their face painted and hit the pumpkin-shaped piñata full of treats.
If you live in Reynier Village (see map) and would like to be notified of neighborhood events, please send an email to reyniervillage@yahoo.com
Check out our website for membership information www.reyniervillage.com

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli
RVNA Communications

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Bamboo

For 25 years, since I bought my home in Reynier Village, I loved the tall and thick bamboo hedge that surrounded my backyard and protected my privacy through its impenetrable branches.  It was planted decades ago, in a time when homeowners were not aware of the destructive behavior of running bamboo, whose roots travel underground, under driveways and lawns.  About 10 years ago another invasive plant started growing on top of the bamboo hedge, morning glory; it spread all over at a rapid pace, but I enjoyed its purple flowers.  After warnings from gardening experts, more environmentally aware than myself, I decided to have this vine-like weed removed.  To our horror, below the pretty flowers, we discovered a thicket 3-feet deep of dead bamboo, that had to be removed because it constituted a fire hazard.  We filled a huge dumpster truck, with the 70 feet of bamboo.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Art classes

We were glad to see that the remodeled space at 2803 S Robertson Blvd has been rented to Art Works Studio (310-202 1894).
Starting September 10, they offer art classes and workshops for all ages on drawing, painting and mixed media. They have camps for children Kindergarden to 12th grade during summer and school holidays.
They partnered with Hands-on 3rd, so they also offer classes in sewing, knitting, screen printing, jewelry making and more.
You may book your own private drawing party for women only with champagne, dinner and live male nude model, at their Hollywood location on Melrose and Larchmont. Call: 323-463 2562 or email: ladrawing party@gmail.com

To register for classes, email: info@artworksstudio.org

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

P.S. This location has closed. They are still open at 660 N. Larchmont Blvd LA 90004.

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Outdoor rooms

We were so impressed by the landscaping of the outdoor spaces of a Reynier Village home now for sale that we asked the owners for some tips on how they accomplished this result, in case other neighbors wished to do something similar and eco-friendly in their own backyard.

“Our goal was to create an outdoor room feel.  For our back patio area, we wanted to create a walled garden space, and we felt that drought-tolerant plants would be appropriate.  We called uponAtlas Design Consultants to help us, they proposed concrete poured in a geometric pattern, that would allow water to drain into the ground, rather than into the sewer system (a growing ecological concern). We hired contractor Marlon Rosales to pour the concrete. We also installed a rainwater collection barrel, tucked away behind one of the 3 California native dodonaeas that we planted as replacement for the rose bushes.  We hired another contractor, Rudy Martinez to install a custom redwood fence around our property, for aesthetic reasons and also for security.  We’re very happy with our outdoor spaces.”

Check out their website for more info, or if you wish to purchase this house
www.2302holt.com

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Washington Blvd Restaurants

Industry Cafe

We had blogged about this stretch of Washington Blvd, between La Cienega and National, in 2010 and 2011, when it comes alive for the annual Culver City Art Walk (this event was sadly canceled this year because of citywide budget cuts), and we’ve walked there often to try some of the new restaurants.
We loved BATCH (it replaced SUBLIME); their pizza crust stands up to the exacting standards of an Italian like myself.  We are happy that the INDUSTRY CAFE offers live jazz, but the Ethiopian food could be better.  It was a good idea to make Helms Avenue a pedestrian area, but we’re sorry that they found it necessary to evict the Jazz Bakery to make room for yet another furniture store. LUKSHON is too snooty for my taste, but one day, when I had a cold, their Shanghai matzo ball soup was just what the doctor ordered.  We prefer places like PINCHES TACOS (yes, it’s named after a Mexican curse word), with its blue and pink building and their tasty sopes, or our latest find, E.K. Valley (Epy García’s Kitchen), serving Mexican food from Oaxaca.

For a list of our favorite Culver City restaurants, please check the Restaurants page of our Reynier Village website.

Please enjoy the food and send us comments below.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

P.S. Unfortunately BATCH has already gone out of business, after only 4 months…

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Riding the EXPO

Expo-Culver City

It was exciting, even for a jaded adult like myself, to ride the Metro Expo Line on the opening day of the Culver City station at Venice and Robertson, and the kids seemed to love it.  The atmosphere was festive, with a music trio playing and cheerful ladies handing out bus route schedules and reusable canvas bags.  I hopped on for free and rode to USC, my Alma Mater. The tracks sloped gently up and down to climb the overpasses crossing La Cienega and la Brea, otherwise the train rode at street level stopping at various intersections and stations, running at a leisurely pace. I got off at Expo Park and took in the lively scene of kids playing in the large round fountain in the middle of the Rose Garden. Waiting for the next train on the return, it was heart-warming to see so many habitual commuters, not just first-day joy-riders.  This type of public transportation, a long time coming in Los Angeles, does really help get people where they need to go, without a car.
Please send us comments about your experiences riding the Expo Line, along Exposition Blvd. It travels all the way to downtown L.A., where you may connect to the Red Line to Hollywood and North Hollywood, the Gold Line to Pasadena and East L.A.,  the Blue line to Long Beach.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Expo Park-USC

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SORO FEST

Barbara Mendes

The Annual SORO Community festival celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, on Sunday June 3, 2012.  A new coordinator, Mark Fielder, and many volunteers worked really hard to organize this exciting event, that attracts throngs of neighbors to a Robertson Boulevard without cars, between Cattaraugus and Beverlywood, and is sponsored by SoRo Inc. and South Robertson Neighborhood Council.
Many local vendors and artisans display their wares, community organizations distribute information about their activities, dance and music groups perform on stage, gourmet food trucks serve lunch.
This year we checked out the booths of jewelry designer Phoebe Neil, who is President of our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association, and of artist Barbara Mendes, who owns a Gallery at 2701 Robertson and designed the blue SORO Fest tee-shirt that everyone was wearing.
Doug Fitzsimmons, President of SORONC, presented the Susan Bursk Community Service Award to Beth Ryan, President of the Crestview Neighborhood Association, and organizer of summer programs for kids at Stepping Forward LA and RAL (Robertson Activities League).
Pico Cleaners received the Green Leadership award for their environment-friendly methods used in their business.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Phoebe Neil

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Fracking in Baldwin Hills

Fracking

Last night we attended a Hammer Forum, a conversation with Bill McKibben, the Vermont author, founder of the environmental action group 350.org, and Josh Fox, director of Gasland, the documentary about the devastating effects of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas.
They alerted us to something we didn’t know about: the PXP oil company has been employing fracking in the oil wells of Baldwin Hills, just south of Reynier Village, causing environmental damage and danger of earthquakes.

Read about the May 15 press conference in Kenneth Hahn Park.
Download the issue brief by Food and Water Watch.
Sign a Petition for Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking in California.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

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New Restaurants

Moo Moo

A few weeks ago, we blogged about our old time favorite nearby restaurants, see post.
Now we want to tell you about a few recent discoveries.

Earlier in the year, with my neighbor Deni, co-author of this blog, we tried CHEGO, the closest locations of the many restaurants opened by Roy Choi, the Korean chef who became famous for his Kogi BBQ food trucks. It was exciting food, but get there as soon they open at 5.30pm, and study their online menu, so you’ll know what to order.  Chego means “thumbs up” in Korean.
CHEGO (310) 287 0337 – 3300 Overland Ave, LA 90034

You may want to check out his more upscale restaurants, that also serve alcohol.
A-Frame (310) 398 7700 – 12565 Washington Blvd, LA 90066
Alibi Room (310) 390 9300 – 12236 Washington Blvd, LA 90066
Sunny Spot (310) 448 8884 – 822 Washington Blvd, Venice 90292

Always a fan of Thai food, I went with my old friend Christopher to a new place that opened last October, because they serve noodle soups.  Be careful of the spiciness, we ordered level 1, as the waitress recommended. Moo means pork, and Moo Moo is slang for “take it easy.”
MOO MOO Thai Cafe (310) 287 9999 – 11127 Venice Blvd, LA 90034

I had been eating at Tara’s Himalayan Cuisine since reading an LA Times review when it  opened in 2008, because it reminded me of my dreamy trip to India and Nepal in 1984, but have gone back many more times in the past few months, because they serve tasty vegetarian dishes.
TARA’S Himalayan Cuisine (310) 836 9696 – 10855 Venice Blvd, LA 90034

This Salvadoran place that also serves Mexican food has been open for 10 years, but I had never tried it, until I decided to assemble a list of nearby restaurants for the new website of our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association. We found satisfying food and a family atmosphere.
GLORIA’S Cafe (310) 838 0963 – 10227 Venice Blvd, LA 90034

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

P.S. MOMO Thai changed name, it’s now called BKK101 Thai Cuisine.
CHEGO on Overland closed. Check their other locations on they website.
Phorage, a Vietnamese restaurants, is at 3300 Overland.

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Rain barrels

Red rain barrel

Don’t you wish you could have collected some of the rain that fell yesterday to use it in the coming dry weeks to water your garden?
Well, now you can by installing rain barrels under your downspouts.

Tree People has a promotional sale next Saturday, April 21, at the Windward School Garden, during the 4th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase.
10 am to 3 pm – 11350 Palms Blvd, LA 90036
You may purchase each red barrel for the discounted price of $100.

Pre-pay by credit card and your barrel will be ready for pick-up.
Then you may call Jerry at The Gutter Guy (310) 217 7678 to perform the simple installation (or do it yourself)

Read our earlier posts about this inspiring yearly event from
April 13 2011April 26, 2010 – April 25, 2010March 29, 2010May 24, 2009
Please send comments, if you attend this year.

Thanks!

Elisa Leonelli

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Robertson remodel

2801 + Robertson

Many of you probably noticed that four storefronts are being remodeled on Robertson, painted in bright pastel colors to attract new tenants.
We can’t wait to find out which exciting new shops will open there.
One of them is already occupied by the same establishment that was there before, the hair salon Marshoni G at 2801 (310) 839 2400
You may want to get your hair styled there or try these other salons.
Aveda–Knox Salon  at 2823 (310) 837 5600
Studio 2356 at 2356 (310) 837 2356
For more blog posts about Robertson select the category at right.
For a list of businesses check the Robertson page on our NEW Reynier Village website.
Please tell us about YOUR discoveries in the comments box below.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

2729 + Robertson

 

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Schools on Robertson

Hamilton High

Did you know that you could find so many learning opportunities for yourself and your family on our very own South Robertson Blvd?

If you have teenage children, they may attend Alexander Hamilton High School, and qualify for their excellent Music and Humanities magnets.

If you would like to grow vegetables in your own backyard, volunteer at the Hami Garden, take a 4-week class from Master Gardner George Pessin, Sundays starting April 29. Email him to register. Click here for more details, see our earlier post.

If you have pre-school children and would like to give them an early start in environmentally sound behaviors, consider enrolling them at
Green Beginnings Pre-School (310) 841 6100
3047-3049 S Robertson Blvd (more info)

If you need your toddlers to get comfortable in the water to be safe around your pool, book lessons at
Beverlywood Swim School (310) 838 4088
2610-2612 S Robertson Blvd (more info)

If you wish to learn about making art with ceramics, contact
Echo Ceramics 2856 S Robertson Blvd

if you love gourmet cooking, walk into this delightful shop that also sells kitchen tools and get a list of their classes

Hipcooks West LA (310) 841 2738
2833 S Robertson Blvd

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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More on Robertson

Good Will Donation Center

There are so many useful places on Robertson, right next door to our homes, and we should support them, because we’d like to make our neighborhood more user-friendly.
For instance, I always have my car washed locally, bring my donations to Good Will, have my clothes dry-cleaned here; if I were in the market for a used car, I would certainly take a look on Robertson first, if I still owned a dog, I might bring it nearby for grooming.
See below a list of these places, please send us your favorites

CAR WASH  310-559 8044
2460 S Robertson Blvd

EURO COACH 310-280 0595
2900 S Robertson Blvd

FANCY CLEANERS  310-837 2822
2895  S Robertson Blvd

GOOD WILL  310-559 5806
2502 S Robertson Blvd

MANY PAWS 310-837 1710
2750  S Robertson Blvd

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Art on Robertson

SoRo Art Center

Art Gallery

A few weeks ago I walked to Robertson Blvd to review some of the new places that have opened recently, in order to update the RVNA website.  I stopped inside the SoRo Art Center to chat with local artist BARBARA MENDES.  She has been involved in our neighborhood activities for many years, in fact, she created the Reynier Village Neighborhood Association logo that you see on color signs in some of our streets.  As always, I was very impressed with her paintings, so decided to buy one for myself, to enjoy its amazing colors and shapes every day in my own home.
Currently the gallery hosts a show of other artists work as well, NEW VIBRATIONS, and on Sunday February 19 at 3 pm they are having a party.   You’re all invited!

SoRo Art Center
Barbara Mendes Gallery
2701 S Robertson Blvd
310-558 3215

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Local restaurants

Cafe Brasil

For over 20 years, since moving to Reynier Village, I have been going out for meals with friends and family at my favorite nearby restaurants, a short drive away.
CAFE BRASIL, opened in 1991.  They were the only place to enjoy a leisurely lunch in the outdoor patio the day after the 1992 LA riots, when every other place was closed.  And we love their new location further West on Washington, next to their enchanting Villa Brasil Motel, opened in 2002.
HU’S SZECHUAN has been serving tasty and inexpensive Northern Chinese food at this location  for over 30 year, and they also deliver. My friend Chris wrote a glowing restaurant review way back in 1979, so that’s how many years we have been coming to eat here.
VERSAILLES, opened in 1981, is a no-nonsense Cuban place always packed with customers.  They have another location on La Cienega Blvd, just south of Pico.
Check the list below for addresses and websites, along with my favorite dish for each.
Please send us comments about YOUR local favorites.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

Café Brasil: 310-837 9506
10831 Venice Blvd LA 90034
Executive Lunch $ 7.95
www.cafe-brasil.com

Hu’s Szechuan: 310-837 0252
10450 National Blvd LA 90034
Yu Hsiang Eggplant $ 7.45
www.husrestaurant.com

Versailles: 310-558 3168
10319 Venice Blvd, LA 90034
Cuban Style Pork $ 11.99
www.versaillescuban.com

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Eat on Robertson

Campos. Robertson Blvd

There are not nearly enough good places to eat on Robertson as we would like, so we wouldn’t have to drive to downtown Culver City to find a proper restaurant, however we have some local favorites, like Campos, not a chain like Taco Bell across the street, but a family owned place that serves authentic Mexican food.  We love the Argentinian Empanadas made by Adriano and Marcelo, and we’re very appreciative of the discounts they offer our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association, when we host our summer park nites.

You may want to enjoy a stroll, grab some food at these local eateries.

CAMPOS TACOS  310-202 7308
2639 S Robertson Blvd

DOLCE ISOLA 310-776 7070
2867  S Robertson Blvd

EMPANADAS  310-836 5944
2513 S Robertson Blvd

Dolce Isola. Robertson Blvd

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Swim on Robertson

When I moved to Reynier Village from Hollywood 24 years ago, in 1988, my daughter was still a baby, but pretty soon I was taking her to swim at the Beverlywood Swim School on Robertson, a local institution that has been in business since 1951.  Kids and parents splash away together inside the 2 warm pools, and patient teachers guide the toddlers’ first floats in this weightless environment.
The place is closed on Sundays to host birthday parties.  You may want to book one for your kids. Check their website for more info.
www.swimbss.com
BEVERLYWOOD SWIM SCHOOL
2610-2612  S Robertson Blvd
310-838 4088

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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RVNA Community Meeting

Palms Westminster Hall

Every year the Reynier Village Neighborhood Association organizes a Community meeting, where our residents socialize and exchange ideas.  Members of the RVNA Board plus APS, SORONC and LAPD representatives make short presentations of their activities, answer questions and concerns.

This year (2012) the meeting takes place Monday February 6 at 7 pm, in the beautiful Hall of the Palms Westminster Presbyterian Church, facing a wide green lawn that served as playground for the children attending the Nursery school it housed years ago.

Please come out and participate, stay connected, send us an email at reyniervillage@yahoo.com and join our mailing list, to be notified about our events and other neighborhood news.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli
RVNA Communications

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Robertson Blvd

Antique Plus

I often take walks around the neighborhood, by myself or with a friend.  Even now that our dog has passed away, I keep up this habit to get some exercise.  Last Sunday I walked on Robertson Blvd, which I don’t usually do on weekdays to avoid the traffic, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the only remaining antique store open and displaying their wares on the sidewalk.  Some new shops have opened recently, and a few storefronts are being remodeled to attract tenants.
Let’s support our local merchants, art galleries, schools and restaurants.

Please send us comments about your favorites.
See listed below our choices in the antiques, upholstery and furniture category.

ANTIQUE PLUS (310) 903 6072
2812  S Robertson Blvd

ART DECO DESIGNERS (310) 838 8011
2820-22  S Robertson Blvd

SERENA INTERIORS  (310) 558 9678
2739 S Robertson Blvd

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

 

Art Deco Designers

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Go Solar

We attended the Reynier Village solar workshop organized by Open Neighborhoods at PermaCity, and gathered lots useful info that we want to share.
It’s never been as affordable as now to install solar panels on your home.
You get rebates from DWP that favor early adopters, currently $ 2.20 per watt, plus a 30% direct write-off on your taxes.

Permacity is offering a 33% group discount (which simply means 3 homes within 1 square mile), and that brings your cost down to $4.40 per watt, before the rebates.  Final cost $ 1.60 per watt, or about $ 9,600 and up for a 6 KiloWatt system, sufficient for a small 1,500 square feet home.
Check out their website for more info or email Herb Mendelsohn.
You should talk to your neighbors about doing the installation at the same time, then email us to tell us you are going ahead.
If you want NO upfront costs, you can lease your solar system and pay about half of your current monthly electric bill to Sun Power for 20 years.
If you’d like to attend another group workshop, register on the Open Neighborhood website

If you’re ready to get a free solar assessment about the costs and timing of installation on your home, call: 310-893 3100.

It makes economic sense to go solar at this time, you will save on your utility bill, and to switch to a clean and renewable energy source will also help reduce the use of dirty coal-generated electricity in our city.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

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Farmers market

pupusas

We all know by now that locally grown fruits and vegetables are better for our health (more nutritious) and for the environment (less pollution).
So why don’t we make it a weekly ritual to visit the Farmers Market at 1801 S. La Cienega Blvd?
It’s very close to Reynier Village and easily reachable by walking or bicycling.
It takes place every Thursday afternoon from 2 to 7 pm.
You can buy organic or pesticide-free produce to prepare healthy meals.
You can buy cut flowers, also plants for your garden (from Ramos Nursery).
You can take home delicious meals, such as Salvadoran pupusas and Hawaiian BBQ chicken.

For more info check out their website
www.lacienegafarmersmarket.com

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

organic vegetables

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Garden Class at Hami Garden

George at Hami Garden

Good News!
Master Gardner George Pessin will conduct another series of classes.
The 4-week session is every Sunday
Dates: Sept 18, Sept 25, Oct 2, Oct 9
Time: 1:00PM – 4:00PM
Hamilton School Garden
2955 S Robertson Blvd (entrance on Canfield Ave)
The Grow LA Victory Garden classes are organized and led by UC California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners. Those who complete the 4-week training will become UC-Certified Victory Gardeners.
Please register early these classes sold out last May.
Email George to pay by Paypal or mail a check to
George Pessin
834 Huntley Dr #4
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Culver City Art Walk

Giggle and Pop!

Each month we discover more art galleries, places to eat and shops popping up on the stretch of Washington Blvd, between La Cienega and National, that used to be quite deserted.
The best time to visit was yesterday, during the sixth annual Culver City Art Walk, when lots of people really did come out and walked around.
The event started at 2 pm on Helms Walk with Giggle and Pop!, a silly but sweet performance by the students of the Culver City High School Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, created by artist Gary Baseman. As late as 7 pm the opening of The Vault (6150 Washington) was still crowded, it felt just like at a private party.

Local musicians and artists came together for an impromptu jazz performance, the mural by D*Face titled “Going Nowehere Fast” loomed on the side wall of the Corey Helford Gallery (8522 Washington), visitors checked out the artwork featured in over 35 galleries, like the paintings of Peter Sims at Cardwell/Jimmerson (8568 Washington).
Hope you made it there on this special day, but if you didn’t, go any time, have a bite to eat at Pinches Tacos (8665 Washington, BYOB), listen to jazz at Industry Cafe (6039 Washington), work out at Sweat Pilates (8540 Washington).
Then send us a comment with your suggestions.

P.S. Click on our 2010 Culver City Art Walk post.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Jazz musicians

Mural by D* Face

Cardwell/Jimmerson Gallery

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RVNA Celebrates

Laura, Steve, Hector, Lisa, Phoebe

The Reynier Village Neighborhood Association held a brunch for its members on May 15 at Reynier Park to celebrate the election of the new board: Co-presidents Phoebe Neil and Lisa Barnet, Treasurer Hector Garza, Secretary Steve Cawelti, Communications Elisa Leonelli, At Large Martha Sullivan; Webmaster Laura Sadler.  These dedicated volunteers will remain in office for 2 years, then they will encourage other neighbors to step in and take over their duties.  Many of them have been devoting a lot of time to creating the association, organizing activities and improving our neighborhood community since 2005.
If you’re not already a member, please consider joining, sign-up for APS Patrol Service.
For more info check out our website reyniervillage.com
One of the most popular RVNA events has been park nights; several times during the summer, all the neighbors are invited to stop by and chat, have some food and get to know each other.  This year’s dates are: July 13 and 27, August 10 and 24.

Please contact us if you have ideas for other initiatives that you would like to organize to benefit our neighborhood. email: reyniervillage@yahoo.com
Thanks

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli
RVNA Communications

 

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Backyard farming

Windward School Garden

You want to grow vegetables in your backyard, start your own small farm, but don’t know how to begin?
Take a look at what Farmscape Gardens can do for you.
We went to see how they work at a demonstration they held today at Windward School Garden, organized by Garden educator Samantha Lyon during the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase.
They donated their expertise and materials and in less than 1 hour a raised wooden bed was built by students and filled with soil.
You can hire Farmscape to build these beds, in many different shapes and sizes, plant vegetables for you in your own home.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Windward garden bed

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Mar Vista Gardens

You don’t want to miss the expanded 3rd edition of the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase, which has now become a giant eco-festival, celebrating Earth Week,
Saturday April 30 – 11am to 4 pm

Explore examples of drought resistant landscaping and edible gardens, learn about composting techniques and rainwater capture, see how many homeowners use energy efficiency, solar energy, and other sustainable practices to reduce utility bills and help the environment.

There are many personalized tour maps linked here.
We suggest you bicycle to cover more territory.

Check out the Windward School Learning Garden
created by Permaculture Designer Samantha Lyon.
11350 Palms Blvd

Get inspired to implement some of these practices in our own neighborhood!

Text by Elisa Leonelli

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Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens, once a government program created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor to help feed Americans during World War II, are promoted again today by various organizations, such as Edible Gardens and the community garden movement, to encourage people to grow their own healthy food.
The Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative offers classes to help new gardeners start their own gardens quickly and easily in a container, in the backyard or at a community garden.

A class organized by Master Gardener George Pessin will take place this May at the Hamilton School Garden in our neighborhood, Sundays May 1-8-15-22, 1 to 4 pm.  The cost is only $ 50.  Those who complete the 4-week training will become UC-Certified Victory Gardeners.

To sign up contact George by email.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

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Hardwood floors

hardwood floor

The 1930s Spanish homes in our neighborhood used to have gorgeous hardwood floors.  Unfortunately, decades ago, many of them were covered up with carpeting.

A couple of weeks ago, with the new year, I finally decided to remodel a spare bedroom and turn it into a TV room.  I wondered what was under that tired old carpet and I discovered something even worse, ugly linoleum tiles glued on top of the original wood.  I consulted some floor experts and was given little hope of finding anything salvageable underneath, we would have to rip it all up and install a new wood floor; but then a dear friend recommended Danny, a wonderful craftsman who lives in our neighborhood.  He was confident that it could be done, so one rainy morning he showed up with 4 of his long-time workers, and in 48 hours the old wood was uncovered, stripped, sanded and stained.  It feels fantastic to have the floor back to the way it was intended by those builders way back in 1931.

You may want to try doing something like this in your own house and you could discover some gems, such as these lovely corner inlays.
Danny’s number is 323-937 3563, and the name of his 25-year-old company is AMA Hardwood Floors.
Please let us know your experience with other old-fashioned craftspeople in our neighborhood: carpenters, electricians, handy-men, masons, painters, plumbers, etc.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Water saving tips

rain barrel

A couple of weeks ago I attended the last class of the Green Garden Academy, a free seminar series organized by the Office of Sustainability of the City of Santa Monica; the topic was “Showers to Flowers. Learn the proper use of gray water in your garden, and how to harvest and use rainwater.” So I would like to share some easy water saving tips to implement in your homes and gardens.

Rain barrels may be attached to your downspouts, water is collected when it rains and may be used later to water your garden. Warning: install the barrels at least 6 inches high, not like I did in my garden (see pictured), so the water can flow more easily from the valve at the bottom of the barrel. The hose attached to the upper valve serves to catch the overflow during heavy rainstorms and direct it to your garden, away from the hard surfaces.

You could purchase a self-installation kit to divert the water from your washing machine to your garden, but I thought the procedure was overly complicated; out teacher admitted that buying one of the new front-loading, water-saving appliance would be a better solution.

One simple trick I had learned some time ago and have been using for years is to put a bucket inside your shower to catch the overflow while you are waiting for the water to get warm. Then you can easily carry it to your backyard, pour the water into a watering can to spread over your plants.

Find out more about rainwater harvesting here.

Please send us any water-saving tips you have been implemented in your own home and garden.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Green Living

Reynier Village

On September 23 we attended a Green Living Workshop, sponsored by speaker Karen Bass, presented by Sustainable Works and the Culver City Garden Club.
Many members of the SORO Green team were present.
Mini-seminars were offered with useful tips on how to conserve water, compost your organic waste, replace dangerous household chemicals, shop for food in an earth-friendly way.
Sustainable Works of Santa Monica offers 6 workshops, meeting once a week, on the topics of Water, Energy, waste, Chemicals, Transportation, Shopping & Food.
Reynier Village has been working with the SORO Green Team to organize one for residents of our neighborhood.
Find out more about the Residential Greening Program, and please send in your suggestions.
One of the recommended changes, that can be implemented immediately and at no cost, was to do more walking and bicycling, considering that the majority of car trips takes place within a 2-mile radius from home.
A fun ride, taking place for the first time in LA, is CicLAvia (from the Spanish word ciclovia=bicycle lane) on October 10, one of the 10-10-10 Global Work party events promoted by 350.org, the organization created by Bill McKibben to find solutions for the climate crisis.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Lawn alternatives

Slopesaver- fescue blend

Last Saturday (August 21), we went on a fun tour aboard a Santa Monica Blue bus to look at examples of how to plant, in your backyard or front lawn, new types of grasses, which require much less water and mowing than traditional turf.
As students of the Green Garden Academy, a free seminar series organized by the Office of Sustainability of the City of Santa Monica, we were lead by Russell Ackerman, and we met landscape experts and adventurous home-owners along the way.

See for yourselves some of these luscious ground covers.

Slopesaver (fescue blend) low-mow grass in a backyard on Marguerita Ave.
UC Verde Buffalo grass in a frontyard on Berkeley Ave.

UC Verde Buffalo Grass

Even better, why not eliminate grass at all?

Take a look at the Santa Monica demonstration gardens, one traditional, with turf and flowers such as roses and gardenias at 1718 Pearl, the other with only mulch and California native drought-tolerant plants, on 1724 Pearl.  The latter uses far less water and requires much less maintenance than the former.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Green preschool

Green Beginning

A brand new preschool has opened in our neighborhood!

Welcome news to those of us who remember the now defunct but wonderful Palms-Westminster Nursery School.

And this school is amazing!

playground

garden beds

The building is painted green, it’s called Green Beginning, and it follows green practices.  They have 3 garden beds where they grow strawberries and tomatoes, they use 3 composting bins… something we should all be doing in our backyards. And these 2 to 5-year-old are learning these basic skills early in their lives.

If you have young children, please check them out.  Their fall classes start September 9.
3047-3049 Robertson Blvd
310-841 6100
greenbeginningpreschool.com

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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SORO Festival

For the thirteenth year the SORO festival took place on South Robertson on Sunday June 6.
It was a great way to discover local businesses and get reacquainted with old friends.

I spoke with our Reynier Village neighbor Huli, who was displaying her lovely handmade jewelry creations.
You may contact her at: stillsloane2@gmail.com

I chatted with local painter Barbara Mendes and she proudly showed me the newly painted facade of her gallery, after her recent move to 2709 Robertson Blvd.
Here’s her website: BarbaraMendes.org

I had meant to get a facial and I found a list of choices on a flyer from Massage Garage, plus a $10 discount coupon. I had never noticed their storefront on Main Street in Culver City, even though I have been going to the Tuesday afternoon farmers market on that street for years. I booked a glycemic peel and was very pleased with the treatment.
Here’s their website: themassagegarage.com

I created a list of local eateries and businesses on South Robertson, that you may consult on our neighborhood website: reyniervillage.com

Eat locally, talk to your neighbors, discover how many creative and interesting people live next door to you.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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ART WALK Culver City

This annual event gets better and better.
This year we decided to explore the area of Washington Blvd between National and La Cienega, East of the more popular downtown Culver City, and found a flourishing neighborhood, full of art galleries, of course, like Thinkspace, Kinkead Contemporary, Susanne Vielmetter, etc; but also other shops, like an interior decorator, Peggy Braswell, and a nursery, Ezequiel, flanked by two excellent new restaurants: Sublime Food Lounge and Brunello Trattoria

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

painter at Thinkspace

Kinkhead Contemporary

Suzanne Vielmetter

art2 on sidewalk

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Mar Vista gardens

Bill Rosendhal, Sherri Akers

After picking up a map, and a green bag, we went on Tour # 4 of  the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase.

We met proud homeowners and landscape designers, we learnt many new things about drip irrigation, solar panels, garden beds, drought-tolerant plants; useful tips we could implement in our neighborhood as well.

One lovely spot was a backyard certified as a Natural Wildlife Habitat, because it provides the four basic elements for wildlife to thrive: food, water, cover and places to raise young.

Dulcis in fundo, Gary offered delicious dates and strawberries to visitors.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Gary’s Greenery

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Mar Vista Gardens

Mar Vista garden

The Mar Vista Community Council celebrates Earth Day on Sunday April 25, from 2 to 6 pm, with the second edition of the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase.
We attended the first one in April 2009, see video by Samantha Lyon, and that became one of the inspirations for our own Home & Garden blog.
It is a fantastic event where 80 families will open their homes and gardens to the public, a big increse on the 30 homeowners that participated last year.  It is a great place to see examples of drought resistant native California plants replacing grass lawns, fruits and vegetable gardens.

Start at this address: 3972 Coolidge Ave
Pick up a free reusable bag, then visit the gardens on 6 self-guided tours.

Event Co-Chair Sherry Akers has become a friend of our neighborhood SORONC Green Team.

Also check out the Mar Vista Farmers Market, Sundays 9 am to 2 pm, on Grand View at Venice Blvd, open on Easter Sunday April 4.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

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How to remove your grass lawn

LAWN BE GONE is the clever title of a class from the GREEN GARDEN ACADEMY.

This fun and informative series on Sustainable Gardening, organized by the City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment, takes place once a month at the Santa Monica Library.

You may register online, tickets are still available for these free classes.

I attended and these are some of the useful things I learned.
The grass lawns so prevalent in dry Southern California, a legacy from wet England, are causing waste and pollution.
It would be a good idea to replace them with less water-hungry plants.
FOUR WAYS TO REMOVE YOUR LAWN, Los Angeles Times

Some choices to replace turf and Bermuda grass: buffalo grass, carex, yarrow, dymondia.

Better yet, replace the lawn with edible plants, create a vegetable garden.
A class on EDIBLE LANDSCAPING will take place on Saturday May 15.

If you do still want to keep your existing front lawn, at least you can learn how to use gardening tools that are not powered by gasoline.  They were demostrated during class and may be purchased from Green Station LA.

Photo: Blue fescue on Halm, landscaped by Alexis

Please let us know if you have done something like this in our neighborhood and we will feature your garden on this blog.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Happy Holidays!

We want to thank all the neighbors who put up colorful lights and festive decorations.

They bring warm holiday cheer to our Village.

Best wishes to everyone and Happy New Year!


Elisa Leonelli and Deni Mosser

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Free trees from DWP

Reynier-flower

Floss Silk Tree, Reynier St

Beverlywood-fall

Liquid Amber, Beverlywood St

We are blessed with a wide variety of trees in our neighborhood; at this time of the year, they delight us with a gamut of colors, from reddish fall leaves to pink flowers.

If you would like to add some shade trees to your lawn or backyard, the DWP is giving them away free, after you complete an online workshop and submit a site plan.

They offer many choices of Evergeen and Deciduous trees, described and pictured in their online brochure.

For more info, call: 800-473-3652
Tree.Program@ladwp.com.
www.lapdwp.com

For customized help with your tree planting, you may contact Larry from SORO Green Team.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Home composting

green bin

green bin

Did you know that the green garbage bins supplied by the city are not just for garden trimmings and clean wood?
You may use them to dispose of fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells, tea bags.
I set up a reusable container on my counter, I throw in all my organic scraps from the kitchen, especially while cooking, then I empty it in the green bin at the end of the day.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of composting for your own use, let the city do it.
The green bins contents will be composted.
If you do want to learn how to compost, to feed organic soil to your backyard vegetable garden, the city offers free Composting Workshops and Bin Sale events in Griffith Park.

You may also download a Home composting guide

City of Los Angeles/Sanitation
1-800-773-CITY (2489)

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Wall insulation

patches after wall insulation

patches after wall insulation

Now it’s a good time to get that insulation project done, walls and attic, to keep your house warmer during the coming winter and save on your heating bill.

The Gas Company is offering a rebate until December 31 of 15-cent per square foot.  The federal government will give you a 30% tax credit (up to $ 1,500) on the cost of energy-efficient windows, doors, roofing, wall and attic insulation, furnaces, air-conditioning systems and heat pumps.

We were hesitant to break up the walls of our home, but we did it and already  we feel warmer at night.  All you need is to paint over the patched up holes.

You may look up the various processes, the materials used (in our case blown cellulose) and other choices on these websites.
www.everguardinsulation.com
www.WhatADifference.com (they’ll even repaint the walls for you)

Call the Gas Company for more details: 888-431 2226.
Check out their website www.socalgas.com
They also offer rebates on Energy Star qualified appliances: cloth washers, dishwashers and water heaters.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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RAL Reynier Park clean-up

RAL3

The boys and girls of the Robertson Activity League (RAL) were at Reynier Park on Wednesday July 29  picking up trash and litter. The participants to this 10-week summer program at the Robertson Recreation Center, aged 12-16, perform community service projects to earn points that can then be cashed in for field trips.  They also did a trash clean-up along Robertson Blvd, North of Cadillac, they planted a garden at the Recreation Center, they wrote  letters to Soldiers deployed overseas, they help weekly at the Robertson Library restocking books, etc.

This program is made possible through a  grant from: The Los Angeles Police Foundation, SoRo Neighborhood Council, Council District 5, Council District 10 and Robertson Recreation Center.
Their goal is to teach community responsibility in a fun exciting way.

Please let us know if you have any suggestions on how to control littering in our Reynier Village or would like to help with further clean-ups.

You can email your thanks to the Facility Director of the Robertson Recreation Center Brooke.Powers@lacity.org

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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This old house new rose garden

1914 Craftsman house (c) Elisa Leonelli

We recently met new residents of  Reynier Village.  Huli and Raphael Sloane, a wife & husband of considerable artistic talent are transplants of Mar Vista. They brought with them 28 of their mature rose bushes and a large Bird of Paradise. They are going to replant them in the yard of their colorful 1914 Craftsman bungalow which is a rare sight in Reynier Village as most homes here were erected in the mid 1920’s-late 30’s.  Rumor has it that this house was moved to Reynier Village from some other part of the city.  (Anyone with information, please let us know!).

What is particularly special is that Mr. Sloane is a fine art photographer, whose specialty is an expansive study of flowers that also includes blossoms from endangered plants.

“1 out of 3 plant species in the United States is under threat of extinction! Non-native, invasive species are the No. 2 threat to native plants.These facts have instilled an urgency in the direction of my work to include more endangered plant species as subjects and ultimately heighten peoples awareness of their plight.” Raphael Sloane

Text by Deni Mosser and Elisa Leonelli

We are pleased to have permission to publish two of Mr. Sloane’s photos.
Do enjoy,  and be sure to visit his delightful Website.

Green fig © Raphael Sloane 2009

Squash blossom © Raphael Sloane 2009

Squash blossom                                 © Raphael Sloane 2009

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DWP cash for grass!

drought-resistant landscaping

drought-resistant landscaping

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is on a mission to convince consumers to save water in these years of record drought in California, due to the global climate crisis.

On June 1 they passed an ordinance that using your sprinklers to water your lawn is only permitted 2 days a week, Mondays and Thursdays and never between 9 am and 4 pm, the warmest hours of the day,  to avoid evaporation.

Now they would like you to get rid of you turf grass lawn all together and replace it with drought-tolerant plants, mulch or permeable ground cover;  and as an incentive they will give you a rebate of $1.00  per square foot, from 250 feet minimum up to 2,000.

Read more about this in the Los Angeles Times article: L.A offers rebate for ripping out your lawn.

Check out the program details at socalwatersmart.com

For help on how to do it, gardening classes are offered through Be Water Wise.

Many of our neighbors have already chosen that alternative for their front yard, we encourage you take a walk around Reynier Village and get some ideas and inspiration.  Share your thoughts here!!

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Garden sharing

soil-ready edge for planting

soil-ready edge for planting

The waiting lists for community gardens in the Los Angeles area is growing longer.   It seems that there are many would-be gardeners willing to work with no land available for their passion.

Why not offer your backyard to someone who can create a fruit and vegetable garden for you and share in the produce?

Let’s get together with like-minded neighbors to share chores, tips, expenses and locally grown food.

I offer a small area for now, cleared out recently for painting, along the wall of my garage.  It’s always in the shade, so drought resistant plants and shade vegetables could be combined, but my arthritis prevents me from doing to work myself.  Any volunteers to help?

Read this Los Angeles Times article for more ideas

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Gardening in small places

From our neighbors Lew and Lynn Rakowsky

modernist fence

modernist fence

LEW: When we bought the house in 2002, we were drawn to the its Spanish Revival style. Unfortunately, the small backyard was entirely covered in concrete, surrounded by a 4-foot tall brick wall covered in ivy and vines. It was very neglected.
We had some gardeners come in and jack-hammer out all that, remove the concrete, the brick wall and ivy to open the space up.  Then we installed a simple, modernist fence to provide privacy, but still allow for air flow.

LYNN:  Given its small size, we really wanted to maximize the outdoor space as much as possible. It was important to create usable space throughout, including a garden, seating areas, places where friends could gather, and a place to simply read a book.  Ultimately, we wanted a welcoming, usable environment; an extension of the house.

cat and bouganvillea

cat and bouganvillea

LYNN: We put in a drip-line sprinkler and we used drought resistant plants, we also grow some vegetables each season, focusing on tomatoes, lettuces, peas and broccoli.  We usually buy them at the farmers markets as little seedlings.

LEW:  One of the highlights of the property is the 70-year old bougainvillea which creates a beautiful canopy over the dining area. In the summer, it becomes a solid wall of red blooms; a cool place to escape the heat.

The next project is to pave the patio dining area with terra-cotta tiles, as we did in the walkway along the side of the house.

Share the hidden beauty of your backyards!

Photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Organic garden for your health

A note from Dr. Carl Rothchild

Markene's lettuce

Markene’s lettuce

“There is probably no better way to gain access to the healthy organic foods your body craves most than by growing them yourself. More and more people are getting on the home-gardening bandwagon as food, fuel and energy costs continue to rise. Home gardening, especially organic gardening, can be a great help in avoiding the consumption of manufactured foods and offset some of the cost concerns with organic produce.

“Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t growing the world’s biggest tomato or tallest stalk of peppermint. Maybe all you can get to grow at first is a few lettuce leaves for salads or sandwich toppings and some of your favorite herbs to spice up your cooking. Don’t expect too much from your little garden. Try to enjoy the organic gardening experience itself and other health benefits it brings, like exercise, time spent outdoors in the fresh air, and a sense of well being. Try to think of the chemical-free, vitamin-filled, fresh, natural foods it yields as an added bonus.

“If the idea of organic gardening and growing your own food seems more like a chore than a blessing, try to remember all the benefits – and the next thing you know, you’ll be sitting down to a delicious meal made with your own favorite, healthy, homegrown foods.

Dr. Carl Rothchild, ToYourHealth.com

posted by Elisa Leonelli

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Drought tolerant plants

From our neighbor Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times writer

Halm 2400-2

“Many years ago, with memories of the late 1980s drought fresh in my mind, I asked Susan, a horticulturist friend whose Santa Monica company is called Suzie’s Scapes, to help me design a “drought-tolerant” front garden, with native California grasses, flowering plants and bushes.

“We ended up not with a xeriscape garden per se but with a Mediterranean-style garden, appropriate for a “dry summer subtropical climate.”

“I watered regularly until the plants took hold. Since then, I seldom think about watering except in the extreme heat of August or September.

“Among plants that I love having in the garden and that seem to thrive are: Mexican sage, kangaroo paws, flax, agave plants, manzanita, Australian woolly bush (Adenanthos sericeus), California iris and California rock rose (Helianthemum scoparium). I’m eagerly awaiting the day when my Matilija poppy bursts forth with its large white blossoms with yellow centers that look like eggs sunny side up.

“Caveats: I had hoped that having a Mediterranean-style garden would save money.  In the end I’m not sure it has. The garden must often be tweaked, and I apply special mulch three or four times a year (where does all that mulch go?).  Who knows how much I’m saving on water costs, though.  I know I am saving there.

“And I love coming home to this garden. I’m happy to see other front gardens popping up throughout the neighborhood.” –  Martha Groves

Photo by Elisa Leonelli

See more easy-care, lawn-free gardens from Sunset Magazine

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Raised bed garden

From our neighbor Barry Levine, photographer

Barry's vegetables

Barry’s vegetables

“I was reading the Los Angeles Times and this article about an Australian garden caught my eye. This vegetable garden is above ground, requires no removal of the lawn and seemed easy enough even for me.  I just laid down fifteen sheets of newspaper, four inches of alfalfa, eight inches of hay and four inches of compost, bone meal and blood meal.  Then I planted and watered.
“Turns out to cost a chunk of change (about $200.00) so I don’t think I’ll really be saving money over shopping, but it has been educational and fun.  That’s a combination that can’t be beat. I’ve planted and harvested broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, snap peas, strawberries, and my favorite, spinach. I think I’ll tweak it a little next season and add planting soil about four inches thick and only plant tomatoes, spinach and cucumbers.  I’m also adding blackberries and grapes.”    – – Barry Levine

Watch a video from the National Gardening Association on how to build a raised bed garden.

Tell us about YOUR experiences growing fruits and vegetables!!

Photo by Elisa Leonelli

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Front yard solutions

There’s such a variety of solutions that people have created for their front yards in Reynier Village.

Many people have kept the traditional grass  lawns, but are becoming more aware of the necessity to save water during the state-wide drought caused by the climate crisis.

One neighbor has paved the area, maybe to get more parking, but others have planted colorful arrays of cacti and other drought-resistant plants.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Reynier 2716Halm 2410Holt 2401

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Spanish homes colors

California architects of the 1930s were influenced by Spain, Italy and Greece, as well as by Mexican and Native American adobe, while creating the Spanish-Mediterranean style.  The most distinctive features are red tiled roofs, arched openings, carved wood doors, wrought  iron gates, textured stucco walls.

Halm 2424

Beverlywood 8965-4Beverlywood 8925-4

The color palette of the walls tends to earth tones, including Navajo white, that can be effectively highlighted by aqua-green trims for doors and windows, a fit complement to the reddish roofs. The most common colors are a variety of terra-cotta shades, tans and beiges, matching and contrasting the color of the tiles.  Then there’s greens, from pea green to forest green.

Beverlywood 8945-3

But a true innovation, confirmed by the bold choice of a two-tone gravel landscaping with succulent plants, is this chocolate brown house.

Tell us about your color choices and be BOLD!!

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

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Martha immortalizes “the Village”

Reynier Village, as described by Los Angeles Times columnist Martha Groves, “contains fine old houses, many of them Spanish Revival in style, loaded with original charm and relatively affordable, at least by the current dizzying standards”.

marthagrovesarticle

For a delightful overview of Reynier Village and its history, read Martha’s 2006 real estate article
“Spanish style still defines central pocket”

Thank you Martha!

Deni Mosser

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SPANISH HOMES, CREATIVE GARDENS

24th-8970-frontflowers

It is truly amazing, when you go for a walk around Reynier Village, to see how many of our neighbors have replaced the water-wasting green lawns with colorful and inventive arrays of drought-resistant plants and flowers. It makes you wonder what’s behind those charming 1930 Spanish facades and tiled roofs… Probably backyards just as creative, and hopefully some organic gardens where fruits and vegetables are grown.

Please post a comment and let us know where those hidden gems are located, so we may organize a garden tour of the neighborhood, like the Mar Vista Neighborhood Association did recently.

Elisa Leonelli + Deni Mosser

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While walking through the neighborhood, an idea was born

While walking through Reynier Village with my neighbor, we were admiring the beautiful spring gardens and architectural details of the 1930’s homes. We were discussing what we could do for volunteer work and started talking about community gardens. One thing led to another and we decided to create this blog to celebrate our architectural diversity, discover drought resistant gardening, and perhaps inspire others to grow food and share it with neighbors.
Text and photo by Deni Mosser
reynier-rose

Reynier Village is part of South Robertson/SORO/Los Angeles, CA.

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