Dec. 12, 2018

The Best Family Holiday Events in Los Angeles

 

 

The holiday’s are just around the corner, but you still have a few weeks to take in all of the holiday events that Los Angeles has to offer! Below, we have broken down the best holiday events for you and your family this winter!

 

L.A. Zoo Lights

Open now through January 6, 2019

Since 2014, L.A. Zoo Lights has dazzled families with it’s holiday spectacular. Glowing animals welcome you as you walk through giant illuminated snowflakes, a disco ball forest, a whimsical herd of animated elephants, and a twinkling tunnel filled with dynamic swirls of color. The self guided tour take 60 - 90 minutes, featuring thousands up thousands of sparkling LEDs. 

 

The 2018 holiday season features an all-new area with reimagined favorites like the animated elephant herd, Santa’s outpost, and the dramatic water show, now with new music and laser projections.

 

On chilly LA nights warm up with Hot Chocolate and other holiday treats all available for purchase throughout the Zoo. 

 

Zoo Lights is open from 6:00pm through 9:15pm and admission is separate from the daytime admission. For more information visit www.lazoolights.org.

 

Universal Studios Hollywood

Now through January 2019

 

This time of year is magical at Universal Studios Hollywood, and that’s not only because of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (though that may have something to do with it). During this time of year, the Wizarding World is completely transformed with festive décor. Hogwarts is covered in dazzling lights, as holiday favorites are performed by the Hogwarts student choir accompanied by their giant throaty frogs. 

 

Shop for holiday ornaments, stockings, tree toppers and figurines, then enjoy seasonal food and beverage offerings at Three Broomsticks™, including a Holiday Dinner and hot Butterbeer.

 

For the younger members of the family, Christmas with the one and only Grinch. Enjoy the tree-lighting with of a 60-foot pine while from the Who-ville singers belt out carols. Then let the kids decorate ornaments and listen in with Cindy Lou as they tell the story of Christmas.

 

Enchanted: Forest of Light

Open now through January 6, 2019

 

Enchanted: Forest of Light is an interactive, nighttime walk through ten lighting displays in some of the most beloved areas of Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge. The one mile walk usually takes guests about an hour to an hour and a half to make it through. 

 

Enchanted: Forest of Light runs daily 5:30 -10 p.m., from Sunday, Nov. 18 to Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, though it is closed on Christmas Day . 

 

Tickets range from $28–$30 for the general public, and $23–$25 for Descanso Gardens members. 

Dec. 5, 2018

The Best Cocktails (and Mocktails) to serve to Guests this Holiday Season

 

 

Nothing says the December quite like hosting friends and family for ugly sweater parties and holiday cheer! This year, wow your friends with drinks that will have them asking for more! 

 

 

 

Boozy Apple Cider

 

This is exactly what is sounds like, and trust us this one is going to be a crowd favorite. 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 gal. apple cider
  • 1 1/2 c. whiskey, preferably Fireball
  • 1/2 c. Caramel
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
  • 8 apples
  • lemon juice, for brushing

 

Directions

  1. In a Crock-Pot, combine apple cider, whiskey, cinnamon sticks, and caramel. Cook on low until warmed through, about 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Make apple cups: Slice off the top of each apple. Use an apple corer to remove the inside of the apple until you’re about 1/2" from the bottom of the apple. Squeeze lemon juice inside the apple cups to prevent apples from browning.
  3. Ladle hot cider into apple cups. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, and serve immediately.

 

 

 

White Christmas Margaritas 

 

Ingredients

 

  • 1 (14-oz.) can coconut milk
  • 12 oz. silver tequila
  • 8 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 c. lime juice
  • 2 c. ice
  • 1/2 c. Mint, for garnish
  • 1 lime, sliced into rounds for garnish
  • Lime wedge, for rimming glass
  • Sanding sugar, for rimming glass
  • Cranberries, for garnish

 

 

 

Directions

  1. Combine coconut milk, tequila, triple sec, lime juice and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Rim glasses with lime wedge and dip in sanding sugar. Pour into glass and garnish with lime and cranberries. Serve.

 

 

 

Spiced Mexican Hot Chocolate

 

Ingredients

 

  • 4 c. whole milk
  • 2 c. half-and-half
  • 1/2 c. dulce de leche
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 10 oz. 70% dark chocolate
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. bourbon

 

Directions

 

  1. Whisk together milk, half-and-half, dulce de leche, and cinnamon sticks in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Return mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Gradually whisk in finely chopped 70 percent dark chocolate, whisking until melted and smooth.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in pure vanilla extract, kosher salt, and bourbon, if desired. Discard cinnamon sticks. Serve warm.

 

Mocktail: Classic Eggnog

 

Ingredients 

  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. bourbon or rum (optional)
  • Whipped cream, for serving

 

Directions

 

  1. Combine milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a small saucepan over low heat. Slowly bring mixture to a low boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until yolks are pale in color. Slowly add hot milk mixture to egg yolks in batches to temper the eggs and whisk until combined.
  3. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat until slightly thick (and coats the back of a spoon) but does not boil. (If using a candy thermometer, mixture should reach 160º.)
  4. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream and, if using, booze.
  5. Refrigerate until chilled.
  6. When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon.
Nov. 27, 2018

Celebrate Hanukkah at the Skirball Cultural Center

 

 

 

Hanukkah is coming up fast this year! The 8-day celebration begins on Sunday, December 2 and continues through Monday, December 10.  If you are looking for some holiday fun with your family, swing by the Skirball Cultural Center on December 2 for a day full of festivities.

 

 

About the Event 

 

The Hanukkah festival begins at 11:00 am on December 2, with festivities lasting until 4:00pm. The celebration of the ancient Jewish festival of light explores the themes of justice, courage, and persistence at the core of the Hanukkah story and the current exhibition Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

 

 

 

Event Festivities 

 

The festival includes live performances, hands-on work shops and storytelling of the ancient Hanukkah tale. The the live shows include musical performances by klezmer band Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi, roaming musicians Janice Markham and Melinda West, and dance leaders Bruce Bierman and Gilberto Melendez. The Jewish Youth Orchestra and Urban Voices Project will also perform holiday tunes. 

 

In addition to musical performances, attendees can create a little light of their own with artist Belize Wilheim, and decorate chocolate Hanukkah gelt with ArtBites’ Maite Gomez-Rejón.

 

For those interested in a more traditional festivity, gather around and listen as the story of Hanukkah is brought to life in English and Spanish. 

 

 

 

Event Exhibitions

 

Throughout the day, enjoy the cultural exhibitions that the Skirball has up this time of year. You can visit the Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg exhibition. Based upon the New York Times bestselling book of the same name, the RBG exhibition offers a visually rich, entertaining, and comprehensive look at the Supreme Court Justice’s life and work. It also highlights the challenges she had to overcome by becoming the first Jewish female Supreme Court Justice.

 

Another exhibition to visit while at Skirball is the year-round, children’s play exhibit Noah’s Ark at the Skirball™. The exhibit encourages kids to “play, climb, build, explore, make believe, and make friends” all while exploring a floor-to-ceiling wooden ark. Tickets for the ark are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

 

 

 

Dining

 

Enjoy Zeidler’s Café’s popular lunch menu including special Hanukkah dishes such as latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). The cart will be open throughout the festival, offering holiday treats and its usual fare of fresh salads and sandwiches.

 

Nov. 14, 2018

Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

 

This holiday season, give back to the place you call home! Southern California has seen so much devastation over the last month, and giving back to the community is just one small way to end the year on a positive note. Below, we broke down some of the ways you can give back this holiday season.

 

Help those affected by Wildfires

Just before thanksgiving, thousands of people lost their homes to devastating wildfires. The cleanup will take months, and in the meantime families are left homeless and without any clothes, toiletries, or stability. Nonprofits that are looking for donations include the American Red Cross and The California Community Foundation’s Wildlife and Relief Fund. 

 

The American Red Cross has opened shelters across the state to help evacuees. They also have an online tool that people can use to register themselves as safe so loved ones can find them. Meanwhile the Wildfire and Relief Fund has helped aid those affected by wildfires for 15 years. Money donated will help rebuild homes, help give medical treatment to victims and provide financial and mental health assistance to those affected. You can donate to both of the nonprofits online. 

 

Help feed children during school vacations 

One in five kids in the United States isn’t getting enough to eat on a regular basis, and many of those children rely on school breakfasts and lunches to eat everyday. That means that during school vacations many children go hungry. This Christmas you can donate to No Kid Hungry, an organization that aims to ensure that all children in the US gets the food they need. No Kid Hungry allows for varying degrees of participation. That way you can organize a local event, give your time to a local event, or simply donate money to the organization. 

 

Donate Toys to Kids in Need

There are so many ways to donate toys this holiday season, from Toys for Tots drives at local business across the city, to adopt-a-family programs. Adopt-a-Family is organized by the Department of Public and Social Services. Sponsors are provided with the “adoptee’s” contact information along with their “wish list” of requested items. These items range from grocery items, clothing, gift certificates, or toy requests. Adopt-a-Family allows you to provide some holiday spirit to families who can’t otherwise afford the holiday.

Nov. 14, 2018

Best Restaurants to Celebrate Thanksgiving in LA

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and let’s face it, sometimes we don’t have the time or energy to cook a giant thanksgiving dinner. Instead, it’s easier to grab a bunch of family and friends and go out and sit back and relax as someone else cooks for you! This Thanksgiving check out on of our favorite restaurants to celebrate the holiday! 

 

 

 

71 Above

 

Looking for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a bit of a twist? Check out 71 Above, a modern American restaurant with cuisine by Chef Vartan Abgaryan. This Thanksgiving 71 Above is offering a three-course special that begins with Little Gem, Sunchoke or Burrata. Second course is a choice of Sweet Potato Soup, Octopus or Grilled Mushroom. And the final course includes Roasted Mary's Turkey Breast is served with wild rice, mushroom, maple sausage & apple stuffing. The dinner also includes sides for the entire table which include potato puree, green beans, cranberry sauce and turkey gravy. The Thanksgivng Dinner is $78 for adults with optional $48 wine pairing and $45 for a child’s dinner plate.

 

 

 

Bourbon Steak Los Angeles

 

There’s no rule that you have to eat turkey on Thanksgiving! Michael Mina's modern steakhouse, Bourbon Steak, is offering a three-course dinner of seasonal and inspired takes on Thanksgiving classics. 

The first course offers a selection of heritage squash soup, smoked trout & baby Chiogga beets or lacinato kale & pomegranate salad. You can also supplement the first course for chilled seafood (additional $20) or grilled Santa Barbara spot prawn (additional $18). 

 

The main selections include roasted heritage turkey, 8 oz American angus filet, short rib "Wellington," Mediterranean branzino, 20 oz dry-aged prime bone-in ribeye, or Michael Mina's Lobster Pot Pie. Each main course comes with a family style side, including yukon gold potato puree, classic shells & cheese, roasted Brussels sprouts, French green beans & button mushrooms. The final course is a choice of s'mores or pumpkin pie bar. 

 

A Thanksgiving Dinner at Bourbon Steak is $85 per person plus price of alcohol.

 

 

 

Cafe Del Rey

 

Located right in our backyard, this Silicon Beach restaurant is the perfect option for those who don’t want to travel far for an amazing meal. This waterfront cafe featuring American cuisine is a tranquil place to enjoy the holiday. 

 

On Thanksgiving Day, the cafe is serving a three-course, prix fixe menu. The first course includes a choice of seasonal salad or roasted cauliflower soup. The second course features roasted turkey, filet & jumbo prawn "Surf & Turf," or pumpkin and chestnut risotto. The third course features holiday favorites including pecan and pumpkin pie. The prix fixe Thanksgiving menu is priced at $69 per person.

 

Nov. 7, 2018

5 Tips for Online Holiday Shopping

 

 

 

This holiday season, avoid long lines and mall traffic by shopping from the comfort of your own home. Last year, online shopping accounted for $106 billion worth of holiday shopping. This year, that number is projected to grow to $123 billion. Read on to find some tips to getting the best online deals this holiday season.

 

 

 

Make a List, and Check it Twice

 

Making a shopping list of everything you need this holiday season is the easiest way to limit yourself to just what you need. Its so easy to end up in a rabbit hole of great online deals, and end up spending more than you would at the mall. The easiest way to combat this is to make a list and to stick with it! One thing we do recommend is the free shopping list app Santa's Bag. The app allows you to organize the people on your shopping list and give each person an individual budget, so you always stay on track.

 

 

 

Take Advantage of Online Sales

 

In the days leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, stores will begin to announce what their sales are going to look like. Many times, Cyber Monday sales are bigger than Black Friday sales, but because Cyber Monday trails behind Black Friday, if you miss out on a big ticket item you had your eye on, then you are out of luck. Our suggestion is to weigh out if the price difference between Black Friday online sales and Cyber Monday online sales are worth the risk of potentially missing out on the hot ticket item. 

 

 

 

Sign up for Notifications

 

Most stores will send out emails, app notifications and even snail mail catalogues that list the sales that they are having. If you don’t like being bombarded by store notifications, then follow your favorite stores on social media, most of the time the stores will post about their big sales so that you can stay in the know.

 

 

 

Keep and eye out for Free Shipping and Store Pickup

 

Sales aren’t worth it if you have to pay $20 just for shipping. Many online retailers offer free shipping options for buyers. Amazon Prime gives you free 2-day shipping, Overstock gives US buyers free shipping on $45 or more and other retailers even offer free shipping as part of the Cyber Monday specials. If your item doesn’t ship to your house for free, many times you can send it to your neighborhood store free of charge and simply pick it up there!

 

 

 

Compare Prices

 

Just because something is on Amazon, doesn’t mean that it is the least expensive one on the market. During Cyber Monday giant department stores like Target, Walmart and Best Buy are fighting to have the lowest prices on the market. Be sure to compare the prices of your big ticket items before purchasing, and if worse comes to worse, Best Buy has an in store “price match guarantee.” Just head into your local Best Buy and show them the discounted item elsewhere and they will honor that price. 

 

Nov. 1, 2018

Tips and Tricks to Flying Home During the Holidays

 

 

The Holidays are always a stressful and expensive time for traveling, but with a few simple tips, you can travel during the holidays like an old pro!

 

Avoid the busiest travel times

The day before and after a holiday are always the most expensive days to fly, no matter how early you buy the flights. Another thing to consider is what day of the week the holiday falls on. For example, if the holiday falls on a Tuesday, flights the weekend before will be higher than usual.

 

Use resources that help you compare flights

Sites such as Expedia and apps like Hopper help users compare and track the cheapest flights on the market.  Pro tip: cast a wide net when looking for flights, so that you can compare all of your options, not just the nonstop ones in mid-afternoon. Also be sure to utilize the “search adjacent days or airports” features found on many websites, you might be able to find significantly cheaper flights just by being open to change.

 

Be very careful when you book flights with connections

We know that finding flights with the least amount of travel time is the goal, but when it comes to connecting flights, short layovers can be more of a hassle than they are worth. During the holidays, flights face more delays than usual and those delays can mean that that you miss your connecting flight. So how do you avoid this? Well aside from choosing nonstop flights which is your only guarantee that you won’t be stuck in strange airport, you can choose a connecting flight that has a long enough layover that you won’t have to worry.

 

Give yourself plenty of time to get through security

We all know the drill, show up to the airport at least 2 hours before your flight to get through security. But lets face it, when you travel a lot you rarely give yourself that much time to get through security. This is the biggest fatal mistake for many frequent fliers, forgetting to add buffer time for the security delays. During the holidays, people who don’t travel more than a couple times a year all flock to the airport. With an abundance of travelers who are unaware of security protocols, you’re more likely to wait in longer security lines. 

 

If you are new to flying, remember to wear shoes that you can easily slip on and off for the security checkpoint. Also keep in mind that all electronics bigger than a tablet needs to go in its own bin! 

Oct. 24, 2018

Marina Spooktacular: How to spend Halloween in Marina del Rey

 

 

 

Image downloaded from VisitMarinadelRey.com

 

Come to Marina del Rey this Halloween and join in the Spooktacular activities. The Marina Spooktacular is a Halloween party on the harbor that features L.A.’s only haunted pirate ships. The event is perfect for all ages, with kiddie activities during the day, and frights as the sun goes down. Below, we break down everything you need to know about the event.

 

Dates, Times and Details

 

Marina Spooktacular is open 11 a.m.–9 p.m. October 27 and 28, 2018 at Burton Chase Park. Throughout the day enjoy pumpkin decorating, arts and crafts, DJ music, pirate ship tours, food vendors, and more. Then as dusk falls on the Marina, the pirate ships tour become scarier, recommended for ages 13 and up!

 

 

 

Event Schedule

 

October 27, 2018 @ 3:00 pm 

Ballet Folklorico Ollin - Mexican Folk Dance

 

Ballet Folklorico Ollin brings the culture of Mexico to Silicon Beach through the songs of Veracruz. Presented by the Ford Theatre Foundation, this interactive dance gives audience members the opportunity to join in and dance along to the rhythms that come from this eastern Mexican state. Participants will perform on tarimas (wooden dance platforms) – so wear shoes you can make some noise in!

 

 

October 27 & 28, 2018 @ 1:30pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm

 

Graveyard Treasure Hunt

 

With all of the pirate ships lining the marina, you know there has to be hidden treasure somewhere nearby! This special treasure scavenger hunt takes place in an immersive, interactive, walk-through graveyard with spooky gates, scary props, and ghoulish tombstones.

 

 

 

October 27 & 28, 2018 @ 2:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

 

Magic Shows

 

Throughout Spooktacular, a magician will wander around, mystifying those who dare to participate with trick and illusions. The magician will also perform two staged shows each day at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

 

 

 

October 28, 2018 @ 12:00pm

 

Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc - Dances of the Aztec People

 

Experience the charm of the Aztec people with San Fernando’s Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc. Like the Ballet Folklorico Ollin, Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc is presented by the Ford Theatre Foundation. The dance is interactive and allows participants to create rhythm and beats with fellow drummers and explore the music, choreography, and poetry of this ancient Mesoamerican culture.

 

Oct. 17, 2018

The Best Place to Trick-or-Treat in Silicon Beach

 

 

 

 

If you live in Silicon Beach, then you probably already know that Silver Strand is the place to be for trick-or-treating. Each year the entire area transforms into a spooky, halloween celebration, complete with witches, ghosts and ghouls. If you don’t know anything about Silver Strand’s Halloween spectacular, then keep on reading as we break down everything you need to know.

 

 

 

History of Silver Strand Halloween

 

The Annual Silver Strand Halloween Celebration began nearly 3 decades ago when homes on the Strand were few and far between. Many of the new residents lived too far away from traditional trick or treat sites to take their children to, so they figured out a way to bring the fun to Silver Strand. 

 

 At the request of his young daughter, homeowner John Conner took the initiative and decorated his garage as a haunted house and other homeowners quickly followed suit. Eventually the event became the annual extravaganza that it is today, attracting families not only from the Silver Strand, but from adjacent communities as well. 

 

 

 

Why is Silver Strand so Popular?

 

It’s popularity stems from the fact that is a safe place for families and their children to explore and trick or treat. Homeowners on Roma Court also go all out to provide a wonderful evening for everyone who comes out to enjoy it. It is the perfect way to spend a halloween with children! 

 

 

 

When do the festivities begin? 

 

As usual, festivities begin appearing on Roma around 5:30pm. It begins as a trickle, then a stream and finally a mass. The night typically ends around 9:00pm. 

 

 

 

Dress Code?

 

You can dress spooky or pretty, princess or ghoulish, dead or alive — it doesn’t matter as long as you don’t come as you are! Instead, come as you want to be!  

 

Oct. 10, 2018

Why Fall and Winter are Great Times to Buy and Sell a Home in Silicon Beach

 

 

Spring and Summer have always been popular times of the year to buy and sell homes, but there are plenty of perks to buying and selling in the Fall and Winter. Below, we have listed the some of the best reasons to buy and sell in Fall and Winter!

 

Listing Prices Stay the Same, But Sale Prices Drop

What do we mean by this? Well, sellers can still put their house on the market for the same price you would list it in the spring, but there's less competition for the buyers, so less bidding wars. This means, the seller can still get the value they wanted from their home, while the buyer is happy they didn’t have to come in 10K above listing price to ensure they got the home.

 

This also means smaller mortgages for the buyers, which is always a perk! 

 

There are More Starter Homes During the Autumn Months

Starter home inventory tends to peak in October, according to the real estate site Trulia. Starter homes are defined as home listed within the lowest-third of the real estate market, which is often the range for first-time buyers.

 

First-time buyers who are ready to own a home versus rent an apartment can find great deals on appliances and home goods, in the autumn. According to Consumer Reports magazine, autumn coincides with the best time to buy certain household goods such as gas grills,fridges, TVs, snowblowers, and lawn mowers. 

 

Smart Time to get a Home Inspection

With Fall comes rainfall, and this rain makes it easier for home inspectors to see potential problems in the home you are looking at. If you bought the same home in the summer, you wouldn't know that the roof or foundation leaked, but after Fall’s substantial rainfall, its much easier to see and face the issues.

 

Perfect Time for a Tax Deduction

Buying a home before December 31 helps with tax deductions! You’ll be able to write off some of this year’s mortgage interest, along with deductions for points, property taxes and home offices.

 

You’ll Have Time to Consider All Options

Fall and Winter has less competition, therefore you have a chance to slow down and consider your options before buying a home. Take the time to review all of your options, look at your check list and buy the hime that is the best choice for you.