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12 Days of Giving: The Peace Project

December 17, 2014 in Blogging (in) LA, culver city, Holidays, LA, Seasonal, Shopping

2014 has been a great year for my family.  It wasn’t always like this.  We’ve had some pretty lean years in the past but hard work, faith, and determination put us on a blessed path.  There are plenty of places in the world where, no matter how hard citizens try, those qualities still don’t offer up a dream life.  This year, I felt it was important to give back to the universe that has created joy and plenty in my life but still finds so many people suffering around the world.  My husband and I both come from from traditions of charitable giving and volunteership.  No matter how impoverished we’ve been, we could always put food on the table and our parents taught us that meant we were still fortunate and it was our duty to offer assistance to those without.

So our regular checks to charitable organizations weren’t good enough this year.  A stellar year means we’d have to reach a little deeper.  But I’m lazy and volunteering with an infant while my husband is working overseas is more difficult than I can manage.  Instead, I found a great way to give while doing my regular weekly shopping at the Culver City Farmers Market.  The Whole 9 Gallery had a booth I could not avoid.  So many cute and cool things to buy!  And what’s this??  The money spent helps to support their charity The Peace Project??  Perfect!  Holiday shopping AND charitable giving, combined!  I bought more gifts than I had people to give to just so I could throw more money at a worthy cause.  And all of it was reasonably priced and very well made and unique.

The Peace Project is an effort by The Whole 9 online creative community to transform lives globally.  Started in 2010 by the community’s founder, the project has distributed crutches to amputees and victims of civil war in Sierra Leone, sponsored educational grants for African school-age children, built houses for Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines, and been the benefactor for several artists on six continents.  Through their works, they’ve used art to bridge the gap between necessary resources and the community members who desperately require them.  The Whole 9 Gallery in Culver City sells the wares for several artists whose proceeds fund these works abroad.

To learn more about The Peace Project or to donate directly, visit http://thepeaceproject.com/donate.php.  Just want some last minute gifts that will fund the future happiness of others in our world?  Check out The Whole 9 Gallery at 3830 Main Street, Culver City, CA 90232.

‘Tis the Season for Crowds: Krampus on Parade & Renegade Craft Fair

December 13, 2014 in Art, Crafts, Downtown, East Side, Entertainment, Events, Fashion, Holidays, LA, Seasonal, Shopping

I braved not one but TWO crowds today.  First up…  The Echo Park Holiday Parade!!!  I had high hopes for this because I’d heard a bunch of Krampus revelers were going to be there and I was not disappointed.  If you’re one of the uninitiated, “Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during the Christmas season who had misbehaved… Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children and drag them off into the black forest.” (wiki)

Krampus was made popular a couple years ago by a viral video of hairy-costumed nightmares rampaging through a northern Italian mountain community and beating the ever-loving crap out of passersby.  I needed the little one to see this so she’d be on her best behavior for the next couple weeks.  But unlike Italy where it is apparently legal to beat innocent tourists, it’s frowned upon here, especially for 6 month olds.  That’s probably for the best.

There were other parade participants but I honestly can’t remember who they were after seeing the Krampus steam engine car built by Bay Area artist-engineer Kimeric Smythe.  Also several members of the Salzburg-area Alt Gnigler Krampus and Perchten Troupe joined the parade of domestic brand Krampus… Krampuses?  Krampen?  Krampai?  Whatever.  It was a hoot.

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As if seeing Krampus in Echo Park wasn’t enough, I dragged the kid downtown to Grand Park for the Renegade Craft Fair.  It’s one of my favorites.  Although I had nothing to buy this time (poor wallet…), I got to see some new friends like the ladies at Ave Dee.  I bought a fanny pack from them at the Patchwork Show in Long Beach and it’s been my saving grace on short outings with the kid.  Contrary to what movies tell you, you do not need to travel everywhere with a full diaper bag breaking your back.  Sometimes you just need your wallet, cell phone, car keys, and an emergency pacifier.  Maybe some chapstick.  Ave Dee’s fanny packs are the perfect hands-free device for busy mommas like me.  And they’re cool!  Anyone who says fanny packs are lame are probably pretty lame themselves.  And I guarantee you they’re carrying around way too much crap.

I also stopped in on good friends and former roommates extraordinare from Outlaw Soaps, Russ & Danielle Vincent.  These amazing villians started their business in our house just a couple years ago and look at them now!  Masters of saponification.  Lauded by the mighty Oprah herself, even.  I highly recommend you jump on their bandwagon, stat; they’re moving their productions from Oakland to a little parcel of land just southeast of Lake Tahoe and they’ve quit soap making until the new digs are up and running in January.  When I saw them today, they had very little stock left.  That’s what happens when your goods are being bought for wholesale by the likes of national retailers like Urban Outfitters and ThinkGeek!  I’m so proud of them, I could scream.

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12 Days of Giving : Foothill Unity Center

December 12, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, FEATURED, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping, Social issues

wrapped GiftThis is the first of several posts by us outlining charities and non-profit  causes near to our heart.  Its not always about monetary donations for these groups.  Tight on funds?  They welcome your time and talents to help them as a volunteer as well.  When its all said and done you feel closer and connected to your community when you help it out.  And isn’t giving of yourself all that matters this time of year regardless if its Christmas, Hanukkah or Pagan rituals?

One of the charities that I help when I can is the Foothill Unity Center.  This group is headquartered here in Monrovia with a satellite office in Pasadena.  Year round they service the hungry, newly homeless, newly jobless or whatever other suddent tragedy that hits their home leaving them in need of help.  They need volunteers for several upcoming events, money to support their programs, food donations, clothing…whatever you can help them with. Visit their web site linked in here for more information on what you can do to help them.  After the jump you can learn more of their immediate needs. Read the rest of this entry →

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Paint n Play offers up Winter Art Camp for Holiday School Break

December 11, 2014 in Crafts, Entertainment, Events, People, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

Paint n Play Winter Art Camp application, click to embiggen and print

Winter Art Camp has got to be one of the best things going in the SGV if you have school age kids and you lose your usual day care during the Holidays.  I’ve witnessed the activities that Lisa Barrios and her crew at Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery here in Monrovia line up for the kids and its pretty amazing.  Tons of ceramic crafts for the kids to do every day with expert instruction by the staff at Paint n Play is included in the price of your childs time at Winter Art Camp.

All you need to do is pick out a week and its M,T, F they provide Art Camp for either Christmas Week or New Years week.  Monday and Tuesday be sure to pack your kids a sack lunch.  Friday no worries, its Pizza Party day.

Space is limited and you do need to apply early.  Click on this application to embiggen and print and bring it in to Lisa and gang at the store.

Deets.  Week one 12/22, 12/23 NS 12/26,week two 12/29, 12/30, 1/2.  418 S Myrtle Street, Monrovia CA 91016 626-256-4848

Artisanal LA

December 7, 2014 in Crafts, Entertainment, Holidays, Seasonal, Shopping

I had no intention of going to Artisanal LA‘s holiday market in Pasadena but I found myself there anyway on Saturday.  It was ok.  Most  of the vendors didn’t really speak to my holiday shopping needs but I did manage to get some high falutin’ chocolates from Marco Paolo and a jar of Indian spiced tomato sauce from Mee’s Kut.  The chocolates will be given as a gift but the tomato sauce is mine, all mine!  I will probably eat it all in one sitting with a very large serving spoon.  Possibly a bib.  Also, a shout out to the ladies at Bond Bar…  Thanks for the 5lbs you’ve added to my hips in samples.  I appreciate your efforts but I was serious when I said I’m avoiding you.  My fu is stronger than your tasty treats!

The highlight of the event and the whole reason for the spontaneous visit was seeing Santa!  My little one had never met the big guy and I was nervous about her reaction so I went with a friend as a precursor to our real Santa excursion next week.  My darling daughter is a huge flirt though, so it was an instant love fest.  After a short wait to get him sprung from jail (he was stuck in a parking lot), she took up her seat of honor on his knee and stared longingly into his twinkling eyes while tangling her fingers in his beard.  Sadly, the pictures include a crummy tent tarp background in a lackluster general environment.  We’ll still visit a higher end Santa next week but for 5 bucks, Artisanal’s Santa experience wasn’t awful.

Santa made it onto his own naughty list. "Psst, big guy...  I have a present for you in my diaper!"

Patchwork Craft Show No Go

November 30, 2014 in Crafts, culver city, Events, Food & Drink, LA, Seasonal, Shopping, Uncategorized

I had every intention of going to the Patchwork Show in Santa Ana today but a series of events kept me from it.  First church (hi hippie Unitarians!) which got canceled due to the kid oversleeping her morning nap, then I spent too much time researching ways to use my remaining root vegetables from the Culver City Farmers Market to make leftover turkey chili, Skyped with the in laws, and then I happened to look at a map and discovered Santa Ana is hella far down in the OC. By that time, this wet stuff had started falling from the sky.  Too bad…  lots of great vendors were at the Long Beach show and I was looking forward to shoving some cash at them.  Next up…  Unique LA!

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Selfie Stick the abomination for the self absorbed

November 30, 2014 in Photography, Rants, Shopping, Social issues

The selfiestick, click to embiggen

They started showing up in recent weeks. A stick you attach your phone to for big picture selfies.

At the Auto Show this week they were all over.  They’re obnoxious. The users are screaming and yelling at folks behind them and in front of them to move. I got whacked on the shoulder with one trying to get a better picture.  Really?  Is this not the most obnoxious invention for the self absorbed yet?

Pic by me and it embiggens with a click

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Small Business Saturday support the home grown retailer

November 28, 2014 in San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

Small Business Saturday

Saturday November 29 is Small Business Saturday, the day the small retailer hopes will make their Holiday Season instead of the chain stores at the Mall. Its been going on a few years now, tomorrow is the day. Make it happen for the Home Grown Retailers that support the community they live in. Here is a run down of some of the things I know are going on in and around my corner of L.A.

First up my friend Lisa Barrios owner of the Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery in Old Town Monrovia is offering up 20% Saturday only for customers who come in and tell her you saw the post here.  The 20% off is on any Holiday Gift item, pottery or ceramics that you chose to do.  The Legacy Hand Prints she does are really special momentos you will treasure for a lifetime.  418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016.  They are on Facebook too…remember to tell them fraz sent you!

Hoopla! in Altadena is closed for the day getting ready for Small Business Saturday.  This is a wonderful store full of really unique, often locally sourced artists and writers, gifts.  Hoopla will be donating 15% of their proceeds Saturday to both Light Bringer Project and Room 13 associated with Pasadena’s John Muir High School.

Sierra Madre is rolling out the Red Carpet as a community and will be hosting a “SmART Walk” of local artists within established businesses in town.  Do stop by Sierra Madre Playhouse and get your tickets for the family to attend their production of  A Little House Christmas.  Added bonus is photographer Geoffrey Wade will be exhibiting a few of his backstage images. Read the rest of this entry →

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L.A. Auto Show starts in 5 weeks….I’ve got a promo code

October 14, 2014 in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, environment, Events, News, Shopping, Transportation

L A Auto Show logo...

Although I can’t help with a freebie…this promocode AUTOTRADER2014 good through 11/15 will get you discounted tickets good for admission 11/24-27.

I’ll try not to throw too many superlatives at the event, but this year I think they are going to be able to outdo what they’ve done the last several years.

On tap are 60 reveals for this show, 30 of which will be Global Reveals…or reveals for the first time anywhere for the global market.  Those are always pretty spectacular as the manufacturers really want to get our attention.

In addition to the Green Car of the Year, Green Truck of the Year and Green Fleet of the Year awards are going to be awarded at this years Los Angeles Auto Show.  Smell us…we’re really a big deal.

As always I’ll be there for press days and blogging what happens along with the oddities of the day that regular show goers don’t get to see.  I’m even going to a few of the Manufacturer private after parties which are always fun.  Last year Hyundai had Ziggy Marley as the entertainment and the wait staff was all dressed as zombies. Too.  Much.  Fun..

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Pizza Rev opening in K-Town October 9 donates proceeds to LA Animal Shelter

October 1, 2014 in Downtown, Food & Drink, Shopping, Social issues, Which Side?

Pizza Rev logo Pizza Rev is coming to K-town and its grand opening all proceeds go to helping the Los Angeles Animal Shelter, North Central Animal Shelter.  The LA Animal Shelter serves local homeless and abandoned pets.  The pizza deal is pretty sweet, you get a personal sized pizza and you pay what you want a the end for it (Suggested donation is $8).  I absolutely love a local business that branches out and gives back to the community with each new location.

Adding to the fun is Social Media Sunday on October 12.  All you have to do is “like” or “follow” them on facebook, instagram or twitter and show them your phone with the info and they will give you a free pizza!  Such a deal. (Sorry they aren’t on ello).

I’ve written about Pizza Rev a few times already.  Love the stuff…thin crispy Roman style pie you build yourself along an assembly line of friendly helpful Pizza Rev staff.  They even have gluten free and vegan options!  Do yourself a favor and pay them a visit if you are in the K-town area, you will be hard pressed to vind a better pizza for the money.  Anywhere.

Deets: Pizza Rev grand opening 109/14, 11AM-10PM, 3150 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90010

Press release if you are interested is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry →

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Fund Raiser at CPK in Pasadena for Sierra Madre Playhouse 9/4/14

September 3, 2014 in Entertainment, Food & Drink, News, San Gabriel Valley, Shopping, Theatre/Stage

Sierra Madre Playhouse and California Pizza Kitchen in Pasadena have teamed up for a fund raiser to benefit the Playhouse and its coming production of “4,000 Miles”  The fund raiser is only at the Pasadena CPK on Los Robles, all day on Thursday September 4, 2014.  When you give your wait person THIS FLYER, 20% of your purchase will go to Sierra Madre Playhouse to fund this production.

Sierra Madre Playhouse was chosen over many other theaters in Los Angeles for the Los Angeles premiere of “4,000 Miles”  That play from what I’ve heard is an interesting look at transgenerational values and the exchange between a young man and his estranged grandmother.  The play opens September 26 and runs through November 8.  More details here.

Deets: California Pizza Kitchen, September 4, 2014 11AM-10PM.  99 Los Robles Ave (at Union Street), Pasadena CA.  MAP HERE.  Flyer HERE

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626 Night Market this Friday and Saturday 7/18-19

July 16, 2014 in Entertainment, Food & Drink, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

I’ve been waiting for what seems an eternity for this to get here, but the 626  Night Market at Santa Anita Park is this weekend.  Great food, great people, fun chotskies and awesome food.  Yes, I was redundant, but the food is really the star at this event.

As a local I’d suggest skipping the Baldwin exist off the 210 as its been sketchy due to Gold Line rail connstruction the last several days.  Exit Santa Anita Ave and head south, make a right at Huntingon Drive and follow it to the main entrance for Santa Anita Park.  Next year, the Gold Line will be a fait accomplait and will give you instructions on how to get there from the Arcadia Gold Line Station, until then its freeway baby.

Parking is free, Admission is $3 per person.  Such a deal.

Deets: 626 Night Market 4PM-1AM Friday July 18 and July 19.  285 W Huntington Drive, Arcadia CA91007  MAP HERE

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Summer Art Walks start this weekend in the SGV

June 27, 2014 in Art, Entertainment, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

Man, dusting off my password and sharing one of my favorite fun things to do in the summer.  Wander about Myrtle Ave in Old Town Monrovia, hit a few of the night spots and enjoy some terrific art along the way.

Yup, its time for the Annual Summer Art Walks presented by the Monrovia Assocation of Fine Arts.  Now in its 10th year its a fine example of local art produced in my little corner of L.A.

Several of the local Art Galleries will be open, there will be live music as well as the usual Old Town attractions to keep you busy and entertained. The event will be held the last 3 Saturdays of June, July and August centered in the 400 Block of South Myrtle Avenue.  It will be held from 7-10PM on each of those nights.

If you are an artist that would like to exhibit and sell your work hit me up for the details.  [email protected]

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Amy Alkon’s new book signing Tuesday June 3

May 24, 2014 in Books, Entertainment, Food & Drink, News, People, Shopping, Social issues, West Side

Los Angeles book launch party/reading! Amy Alkon’s “Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck”.  Tuesday, June 3, 6:30p-8pm at Diesel Books at the Brentwood Country Mart (address/map below).  Wine and snacks will be served.

This book has already gathered more than a few good reviews.  250 Words.com called it a must read for this summer.

And Wharton School’s Adam Grant called the book “outstanding work” and wrote this:

This book is a gem, hysterically funny and grounded in science. Amy Alkon explains why so many people are rude and how it’s possible to be courteous, even if you’re foul-mouthed and clueless about etiquette. If anything will convince my wife that my manners are better than she thought, this is it.
~Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take

Amy Alkon aka The Advice Goddess is syndicated columnist in about 100 newspapers.  She is also all over the web at blogging daily: http://advicegoddess.com.  She also has a weekly radio show: http://blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon (Nerd your way to a better life! with the best brains in science) 7-8pm Pacific Time, or available at the link and on iTunes or Stitcher
If you can’t make the reception but really want the book NOW, you can get it on Amazon HERE.

Details. Diesel Books, Brentwood Country Mart, 225 26th Street, Suite #33, Santa Monica CA 90402 (310) 576-9960  MAP HERE

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Taste of Haiti fund raiser to rebuild schools

May 20, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, Music, Shopping, Social issues

Nearly 4 years ago the island country of Haiti was devastated with an earthquake. International aid helped, but they have a long way towards rebuilding. Their education system took a huge hit and is in need of contnued help.  Taste of Haiti comes to Los Angeles as a fund raiser to continue rebuilding their schools and stuff.

Taste of Haiti is a celebration of all things Haitian and will take place on a rooftop in DTLA on Wilshire.  Food, Dance, and Music to celebrate their culture and share with those of us who can help with the cause.  High light of the event is food by Chef Jacques Laventure.

This isn’t free, tickets range in price from $20 to $100 with perks commensurate with your tax deductible donation.  Ticket purchase and more about the L.A. Event here.  More on the total Taste of Haiti Here.

Details: May 28, 2014 7:30PM, 3100 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles 90005