Calliope Takes Berkeley!

My last big adventure vacation day!

So the reason I ended up in Berkeley for one day basically went like this: a friend of mine, who lives in Berkeley, who I haven’t seen in FOREVER, posted a random photo on her Facebook with the caption “Oh hey I got married LAST WEEK LOLOLOL” (emphasis, and um, words, mine) so I was like “THE FUCK???” and I texted her and it went something like this:

Me: *Sends screenshot* “YOU WANNA EXPLAIN THIS???”
Her: “LOL”
Me: “We’re in a fight…”
Her: “No we’re not…”
Me: “Yes we are. Also, I’m headed out your way in a week, wanna hang out?”
Her: “YUP.”

So I changed my flights and went to see her basically for a day. She picked me up in Oakland Friday night, we ran around all day Saturday, and she drove me to the airport STUUUUUUpid early Sunday morning. In trying to plan our day, she had asked, “So where do you wanna go? Just Berkeley? San Fransisco…?” What kind of question is that? How can I answer that? “Would you prefer a mountain of cake or a tower of bagels?” GAH!!!

She had already planned a whirlwind tour of Berkeley so that’s what we did. Starting with the Fourth Street shops which I was a big fan of when I had been out to visit her EIGHT YEARS before. Fun fact: there no more is the shop that basically started the dream of Calliope. Anyone remember or been to a place called Scrapbook Territory? It was way down the end of Fourth Street and I remember going in and being ba-LOWN away by all the fun papers and stickers I had never seen at lame-ass places like Michael’s or ACMoore and the dream of my own specialty store was born!

But moving on…our first stop was a place called Castle in the Air!


This place was SO fun. One of those “treasures in every little nook” kind of places. There were cards, toys, pens, stickers, and craft supplies, collectibles…everything!

From there we went off to Black Squirrel Fabric. Now THAT is a fun story…


So my friend (Trish) asked me “Can we stop over at Black Squirrel Fabric real quick?” and even though I can’t sew, I love fabric stores so ob-v I said yes but I couldn’t shake the feeling I knew the name or had heard of it! We walk in and I hear someone say, “Hey! I know you!”


This girl! Now I remembered! Chase, the owner, follows me on Instagram! So we had fun LOL-ing about the oft-chance I just wander into her (totally amaze) shop! I have to say, this place is so PERFECTLY curated…I can’t stop gushing about it. There were so many non-fabric/yarn, cross-merchandised things having to do with sewing and fabric; notepads, pins, cards, and everywhere I looked were things I just had to have. If you’re ever in the area YOU. NEED. TO. GO.


After that, off we went to a place called Tinsel Trading which sounded RIGHT up my alley and it WAS. It was full of teeny, tiny treasures, spools of trim, findings, antique cards…it’s impossible to really nail down a full list of everything. It’s just full of fun. That’s it. FUN.




I just want to point out that Trish and I (and her husband, Nick) hit something like 10-12 places this day. It was in the car, out of the car, look around, back in the car, next place, get out, look around, back in…girlfriend had a SYSTEM. And it was awesome! And Nick was the sweetest. He drove us around and if there wasn’t a space to park, he’d just let us off and go hang out somewhere until we were ready. Which is was he did when we went to Long Weekend.


THIS PLACE. Oh man. Talk about curated. It was almost museum-like in that I didn’t want to touch anything! Of course I WANTED everything but their Pilot Hi-Tec-C pens were literally on a silver platter for fuck’s sake!


They should teach a class on “How to Make People Want All the Things.”

After that I think it was lunch. We went to Burma Superstar, which was famous for their Tea Leaf salad, and was one of those restaurants that had a published cookbook so la-dee-dah. It was fucking amazing. Get the coconut rice.

Also, I found a pizza wall.


After lunch we bounced around some more. I don’t even remember all the places we went. Some of them we walked in and almost walked right out because it was teeny or wasn’t what we thought. We wandered around Ashby Ave for a while and found some great spots!


This place was hidden away and had a DOORBELL? But what an experience. See that huge wooden birdcage in the back? It had birds in it! It’s called Tail of the Yak Trading and they don’t have a website so here is an article about it on a favorite blog of mine, where the first line says “They don’t allow photos” OOOOOOPS.

I won’t lie. I totally got the vibe that they didn’t…I mean you had to ring a doorbell but also the 2 women behind the counter just looked like the type who spend their day saying “YOU CAN’T TAKE PICTURES IN HERE.” to people like me. But how could you not?? Those giant swaths of garland! Huge, super-firm pompoms! Oversized ornaments!

Then. THEN.


From far away, from the seat of a darling ice cream parlor called Ici (which is a delightful play-on words) I saw a balloon garland. It called to me as balloon garlands do. It said “THERE’S SOMETHING FUN OVER HERE COME LOOK!!!”



So I practically dragged Trish over to see and was not disappointed. The balloon garland wasn’t lyin’. Inside was the most precious party store since…well, since Bonjour Fete!



Very similar in style, and a lot of cross-over, but different enough that I still looped around each table a couple times to make sure I hadn’t missed a thing.

After we were done here, we went to find Nick and I stumbled upon….A DONUT SHOP. Now, of all the donut shops I’d visited on this trip…all the fancy storefronts, all the careful branding, highly decorated pastry varieties with clever names, ALL THE HYPE…it was here at this somewhat sketchy-looking bakery on a random side street that I found the best donut I’d had my whole trip. I got a glazed stick that looked like it had just burst down the middle which it made it more round than stick-ish. The glaze was pristine, the edges crunchy. It was HEAVEN.


And this is what it looks like. Lottery tickets, guys. No one’s Instagramming this place. BUT THE DONUTS ARE FUCKING AMAZING. It’s called Dream Fluff Donuts and if you can, GO. And get something for the next day because that’s when I ate most of my monstrous donut; the next day at the airport. And it was still AWESOME.

Trish and I dropped Nick (who had ALSO visited Dream Fluff while he waited) at home and then we continued our adventure to a tiny stationery shop called Twig and Fig.


This place was fancy. An excellent selection of cards and the rest full of all kinds of journals, fine paper, and writing instruments. Glass dip-pens, calligraphy pens and color inks in glass bottle sealed with wax…FAN-CY. By this point I was on total overload. I think Twig and Fig was the TENTH STOP.

The final one being DAISO.

The night I arrived in Oakland, Trish asked if I had ever been to a Daiso and for a split second I didn’t know what it was and then my brain kicked in and I was like “OMFG YOU HAVE ONE NO NO I HAVEN’T BEEN TO ONE!!!!” and she offered to take me that night but we didn’t have time so NOW WE WERE GOING and I was SO excited.

Daiso 1

If you’re unfamiliar, Daiso is basically a Japanese Dollar Store. Just like American ones, it’s full of the WEIRDEST STUFF you can imagine with blatant knock-offs of real brands and just JUNK. But the real hilarity is the stuff with roughly translated Japanese phrases. For example: you have a t-shirt that says “Will You Accept This Rosé?” but Daiso might have one that says, “Yes I like Rosé do you? Hello.” or something equally weird.

And I can’t even believe I found this, but type “Daiso Weird Stuff” into Google and the FIRST HIT is the thing I died laughing over for at least 2 straight minutes. If you saw my Stories from that day you already know what’s coming…



CAN YOU EVEN?? Like, WHAT!?!?! WHAT. IN. THE. WORLD?!?! They are sick-on “fake books” that are basically balloons on plastic discs??

It’s not all like this but a great deal of very strange things are there. It was quite an adventure full of LOLz. They typically have some great stationery things, not the day I went, sadly, but I did score some of their famous eraser sets. And Pocky.


And then we went off home! Another 12-hour frenzy!

The next morning (and I mean TEXTBOOK morning. 4 AM.) I was off to the airport and on my way back to the (fucking freezing) East Coast and it all seemed like a dream. I got off the plane and the below-zero air coming through the jetway made me want to die, then outside, I stood on gritty sidewalk covered in slush and ice in my “Los Angeles” sweatshirt I had bought only 36 hours prior and wanted to cry. But it’s home.

Until next time, California!