Home Tips: Going Green

Looking to “green” your home? Check out these simple ways to tackle energy usage (and the subsequent power bills) without making room for a single geothermal heat pump.

Repair leaky faucets

It’s the little things that get you. So before you dismiss that drip-drip-drip, consider that the average leaky faucet (about 10 drips per minute) ends up wasting roughly 350 gallons per year. That’s about $20 every month extra on your bill. But multiple cracks in the plumbing can wind up costing several times that. Similarly, a leaking toilet can add about $150 to your monthly water bill. Given this, calling the plumber starts to sound like the cheaper, more appealing option.

Throw some shade

Whether it’s baking your face on the beach or streaming in through your windows, manage your sunlight exposure. When it’s summer, draw the drapes and snap shut the blinds, especially when nobody is home. (The same logic applies in the winter when adding curtains can ensure heat doesn’t escape.) When you have the sunlight situation under control, caulk the windows and survey for drafts. If you feel one, it’s likely that cracks around the frame are to blame.

Pull the plug

All appliances generate heat, so keep them off until needed. For example, don’t run the dryer or dishwasher until after dark, preferably overnight. And if you want to cook, the grill on your patio or in your yard is preferable to the kitchen stove. (Cooling and heating are responsible for about half of a home’s energy use, followed by the water heater, the washer and dryer, and the lights.) Also, consider pulling the plugs on the notorious, so-called “vampire electronics,” which continue to gobble power even when seemingly switched off. These include everything from laptops and routers to gaming consoles and microwaves too, of course, televisions.

Hang them out to dry

No one is suggesting you break out your great-great-grandma’s washboard and start scrubbing away, but how you clean your clothes contributes greatly to how much power and water your home uses. (The washer and dryer combined account for about 13% of a home’s energy consumption.) Whenever possible, wash your clothes in cold water and hang them to dry, avoiding the dryer altogether. That simple choice can both reduce your bills and bolster the environment. Similarly, try to only wash full loads to maximize water usage.

Plant south-facing tree

This is an obvious one: planting trees can help make your property more environmentally friendly. Just make sure to plant them on the south side. The leafy barrier will keep your home cool during the summer by providing a barrier to direct sunlight. And during the winter, it will let your home’s interior retain warmth. Plus, your landscaping will look better for it.

 

Things to Do at Home: Creative Edition

It’s not all bad, being home, once you start realizing all the fulfilling and productive things to be done there. And we’re in it together! So I put together this list of fruitful and fun activities to do at home to spread the positivity around.

Play Chess

If anything can motivate us to learn how to play chess and truly appreciate it, it’s Netflix’s new series, The Queen’s Gambit. First, watch the show, then study the game if you don’t already know how to play. If that sounds too ambitious right one or don’t have anyone to practice with, try playing solitaire instead.

Bring Out Your Art Supplies

Whether you like working with clay (try your hand at a stop motion video!), water-coloring, or drawing, set up a little corner to start practicing art again. Crafting and getting creative is such a great way to get out of your head.

Work Your Way Through a Cookbook

If you’re someone who collects cookbooks but only ever really makes one of the recipes or you’ve never actually even made a recipe from them and simply use them as coffee table decor, this is the perfect opportunity to dive in. It’ll make cooking (and eating) so much more enjoyable. Plan out themed dinners to spice it up even more!

Learn a New Language

If you were pro in a foreign language in high school but have since lost your magic or you’re a first-timer, now is a good time to download a language app like Memrise or Duolingo and start practicing. Or, if you’re not interested in learning a new language, sign up for another kind of online class.

LA & Valley Eats: Local Cuisine From Around the World

Stuck at home and looking for something tasty to eat? Satisfy your tastebuds this week with cuisine inspired by countries around the world.

SoCalo

1920 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Located within Santa Monica’s Gateway Hotel, Socalo is a beachy, California canteen and Mexican pub from award-winning chef/owners Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.

Socalo serves conscientiously-sourced, seasonal SoCal Mexican fare for Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner. Open 11:30am to 8pm for takeout, curbside pickup, delivery, and family meal kits. Place your order online, in person, or by phone 310.451.1655

 

Parks BBQ

955 S. Vermont Ave. , Los Angeles, CA 90006

Located in the heart of Los Angeles’ Korea town district, Park’s BBQ is considered by many to be the best of the best. Chef Jenee and Park’s have been given numerous awards and have been featured in countless media. Her traditional Korean cuisine married with her inventive view on flavors has pushed Korean cuisine to new heights.

 

Night + Market Song

9043 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

The vibe at NIGHT + MARKET is California chill meets Bangkok frenzy fueled by natural wine. The menu is likewise a mash-up authentic, old school Thai with some ‘90s Asian-fusion influences that Chef Kris is proud to take ownership of.

 

Ca Del Sol

4100 Cahuenga Blvd. Toluca Lake, CA 91602

With Chef Costella’s attention to detail, gracious manner, and fine Northern Italian cuisine, Ca’Del Sole became an instant success after opening its doors. The comfortable, authentic Venetian country inn setting attracted the entertainment crowd and Ca’Del Sole quickly became the hot spot for Hollywood’s elite.

The Great Greek

13362 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

This photo-lined taverna plates generous portions of Greek delicacies in a lively atmosphere. Check out their take out menu and order a few things for the entire family to share!

Howlin’ Ray’s

727 N Broadway #128, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Yes, there will be a line and yes, Howlin’ Ray’s is worth the wait! Tucked in Chinatown’s Far East Plaza, this hole-in-the-wall fast-casual eatery dishes out LA’s hottest Nashville chicken, served Sando style, as a quarter or half-bird, or your choice of tenders or wings. Customize with caution, and edge on the safe side when asked for your preferred level of heat.

Streaming: Real Estate Related Reality TV Shows

With so much time spent inside, people had a chance to really focus on their homes and make them as functional, comfortable, and beautiful as can be. So it’s a good thing we have so many great real estate reality shows on HGTV, Netflix, Bravo, and beyond to keep us not only entertained but also inspired with tips to take our living spaces to the next level.

Self-Made Mansions

While “Fresh Starter” focuses on starter homes, “Self-Made Mansions” is all about luxury living. This new HGTV series stars Clinton Kelly (from “What Not To Wear”), who helps self-made millionaires find the perfect home. It’s a must-watch for those looking for high-end real estate, but it’s also perfect for those who just like to dream.

Unfinished Business

Have you ever started a home project and failed to finish it? HGTV’s “Unfinished Business” is all about those half done projects. In the series, contractor Tom Reber will help families finally complete their handy home undertakings—timely inspiration for viewers dragging their feet on those quarantine upgrades they swear they’ll do someday.

My Lottery Dream Home International

If you won millions in the lottery, you’d buy a palatial mansion abroad, right? In HGTV’s “My Lottery Dream Home International,” British interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen will help lottery winners find their dream home in Europe. It’s perfect for those fantasizing about an overseas escape in 2021.

Cabin Crew

Have you ever dreamed of living in a cozy cabin? Then you’ll dig HGTV’s “Cabin Crew,” where husband and wife Ben and Loana Sargent transform old Vermont cabins and cottages into fabulous dream homes. It’s a must-see for anyone who wants a little house in the woods that’s decked out with all the luxuries of modern life.

Economic update for the week ending January 16, 2021

Stock markets dropped as COVID-19 related job losses surge – Stock markets fell off their all-time highs last week as investors feared that the economic business closures may last longer than expected due to what appears to be an out of control spread of COVID-19, and a vaccination process that has failed to live up to the numbers expected. Stocks were hit even harder on Thursday after it was reported that initial unemployment claims rose sharply last week. They were over 1 million for the first time since July.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 30,814.26, down 0.9% from 31,097.97 last week. It is up 0.7% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 3,768.25, down 1.5% from 3,824.68 last week. It is up 0.3% year-to-date. The NASDAQ closed the week at 12,998.50, down 1.5% from 13,201.98 last week. It is up 0.9% year-to-date.

U.S. Treasury bond yields – The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 1.11%, almost unchanged from 1.13% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 1.85%, almost unchanged from 1.87% last week. We watch bond yields because mortgage rates often follow treasury bond yields. 

Mortgage rates – The January 14, 2021 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported mortgage rates for the most popular loan products as follows: The 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.79%, up from 2.65% last week. The 15-year fixed was 2.23%, up from 2.16% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.12%, up from 2.75% last week. Unfortunately, rates increased late in the week. Next week’s mortgage rates will be higher.

California existing home sales – The California Association of Realtors reported that existing, single-family home sales totaled 509,750 on an annualized basis in December. That represented a year-over-year increase of 28% from the 398,370 annualized rate of homes sold in December 2019. It was the highest number of monthly home sales in 15 years, and most homes ever sold in December. Home sales are homes that closed escrow. Pending home sales are new contracts signed. Those are at near-record levels as well. For the entire year of 411,870 homes sold, up 3.5% from 397,960 homes sold in 2019. That number is pretty incredible considering home sales were down almost 30% at the end of June. There was a record number of sales in the second half of the year. The median price paid for a home in California was $717,930, up 16.8% from the median price of $659,380 last December. Inventory levels were lower than one year ago. There was just a 1.3-month supply of homes for sale in December, down from a 2.5-month supply one year ago. The current supply of homes was almost unchanged from September and October, as a record number of new listings were taken in November but sold quickly. Below please find a graph of regional statistics for Southern California.

 

LA & Valley Local Eats

If you’re like us, preparing three meals a day gets pretty old. Save yourself that time and order-in this week, if you feel comfortable eating takeout. It’s the perfect opportunity to support your local restaurants and explore your palate. 

Father’s Office

1018 Montana Ave

Santa Monica, CA 

This small and cozy Montana Avenue bar is best known for its burger that’s perfectly cooked and gussied up with caramelized onions, bleu cheese, and arugula. Pair it with one of 36 beers on tap and remember to order the sweet potato fries with roasted garlic aioli.

Tlayuda LA

5450 Santa Monica Blvd., 

East Hollywood, CA

Owner Laura Guerrero of Tlayuda LA, is a fierce fighter for her people and her business, posting daily across social media, private Facebook groups, community message boards, and more, all with one simple message: Come eat. So far the work is paying off, though no restaurant right now is without hardship. Go celebrate all of Guerrero’s hard work with some absolutely fantastic tlayudas, tacos, and whatever else fits your fancy. The place deserves it.

Naemo

2435 S Sepulveda Blvd

West L.A, CA

Westsiders looking for a new kind of Korean restaurant now have Naemo to look forward to. The Sawtelle Japantown-area underground pop-up is now selling on Tock, turning out gorgeous dosirak boxes that include rice, soup, and banchan galore.

Gigi’s

904 N Sycamore Ave

Los Angeles, CA

At Gigi’s it’s all classy French comfort: exquisite duck rillettes with champagne vinegar and a perfectly chewy baguette; just-crisped roast chicken with an herbaceous dipping sauce; and casual, iconic fare such as a jambon-beurre sandwich all leave us wishing we could have a Gigi’s in our own neighborhood for a bit of a casual bistro escape.

Ospi

2025 Pacific Ave

Venice, CA

Chef and co-owner Jackson Kalb’s fresh handmade pastas are of course all worth an order at this Italian spot just two blocks from the beach. The humble rigatoni in vodka sauce is just as crucial as the flashier and more labor-intensive raschiatelli, which come swimming in a melt-in-your-mouth spicy pork spare-rib sugo and topped with crema di pecorino and a showering of breadcrumbs.

Mi Ranchito Veracruz

13363 Saticoy St, 

North Hollywood, CA

When you hit the stretch of North Hollywood that’s basically just semi-trucks and loading docks, it means you’re close to Mi Ranchito Veracruz. This tiny order-at-the-counter Mexican restaurant has an excellent menu stacked with burritos and chilaquiles, but everybody’s really here for the tamales. They’re served Veracruz-style (wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks), are perfectly cooked, and slightly sweet. Sprinkling the spicy red table salsa on top is also a must. If you’re throwing a big house party, they also do catering.

Things to Do at Home: Life Organization

With a new year, comes growth and transformation. When is the last time you have audited your budget? When is the last time you set goals? Take this time at home to truly manifest some progress in your life beyond your career. Check out some things to do at home that can help optimize your life!

Budget

Take a look at your existing budget. Are there places you can improve? Are there places you can ease up on? Audit your budget and create a new one!

Optimize Finances

Get up to date on investment techniques. Get your finances organized and optimized! Invest and consider how to reach your savings goals for specific categories.

Goals

Make a life goals list. Where do you see yourself in one year? Five years? If we truly live one life, why not make the most of it?

Lists

Make a list of what errands you need to run next week, what you need to do for the week, make a grocery list, make any list! Organized lists help you feel like you can handle it versus the cloud of thoughts of everything you need to do!

Streaming: January Releases

Check out these January releases across all major streaming platforms. From a Steve Carell Romantic Comedy to a classic like The Truman Show, you will be sure to stay entertained this month. 

Crazy Stupid Love 

Where to Watch: Hulu

A man has to learn to navigate single life after his wife tells him she wants a divorce in this comedy.

The Ultimate Playlist of Noise

Where to Watch: Hulu

The film follows Marcus, an audio obsessed high school senior who learns he must undergo brain surgery that will render him deaf. He decides to seize control of his fate by recording the Ultimate Playlist of Noise — a bucket list of all his favorite sounds. 

The Truman Show

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Laura Linney and Jim Carrey star in this film about a man who doesn’t realize that his quaint hometown is actually a giant studio set run by a visionary producer/director/creator (Ed Harris) and that the people living and working there are Hollywood actors — including Truman’s wife.

Like a Boss

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Buddies Mia and Mel (Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) must fight for their cosmetics company when a villainous beauty mogul (Salma Hayek) conspires to steal it.

Economic update for the week ending January 9, 2021

 

The U.S. Economy lost 140,000 jobs in December – The Department of Labor Statistics reported that 140,000 non-farm jobs were lost in December. This marked the first month of net job losses since April. As COVID-19 cases continue to spike, most states and local governments have entered more restrictive shutdowns. This has caused another round of layoffs. The unemployment rate in December was 6.7%

Stock markets surged to new record highs again this week – Stocks had another active week as investors expect another round of stimulus, beyond the one that was just passed two weeks ago. Investors also believe that with the senate so evenly split, and the economy fragile, an increase in the corporate tax rate is unlikely. Even a disappointing December jobs report led to a rally, as it puts more pressure on Congress to enact another round of stimulus and leave tax rates alone. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 31,097.97, up 1.6% from 30,606.48 last week. The S&P 500 closed the week at 3,824.68, up 1.8%from 3,756.07 last week. The NASDAQ closed the week at 13,201.98, up 2.4% from 12,888.28 last week.

U.S. Treasury bond yields – The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 1.13%, up from 0.93% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 1.87%, up from 1.65% last week. We watch bond yields because mortgage rates often follow treasury bond yields.

Mortgage rates – The January 7, 2021 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported mortgage rates for the most popular loan products as follows: The 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.65%, almost unchanged from 2.67% last week. The 15-year fixed was 2.16%, unchanged from 2.17% last week. The 5-year ARM was 2.75%, up slightly from 2.71% last week. Unfortunately, rates increased late in the week. Next week’s mortgage rates will be higher.

December housing figures will be released late next week or early the following week. You can get local figures now by going to my website and viewing market trends. Our area saw a record number of sales and new listings in December!

Home Tips: New Years Baby Prep

At this point in the pandemic, there has been a particular boom in babies entering the world. If you fall under that category, consider these six tips to prep your house for your family’s new arrival!

Pick furniture that can double as storage

If you’ve ever visited a home with a newborn, you know how cluttered a living room or kitchen can become. To avoid this (or at least not become overwhelmed by it), go shopping for furniture such as ottomans, tables, baskets and cabinets that can also act as storage compartments. That way, you can quickly stash away diaper boxes, clothes, toys, bibs, bottles, towels, and other baby-related paraphernalia, while also keeping them easily within reach.

Resist stains

Short of sealing every wall and piece of furniture in cling wrap, your carpet, sofa, chairs, and even curtains will doubtlessly end up stained by … something. And probably sooner than you expect. So be sure to invest in stain-resistant materials – as well as inexpensive, dark-colored blankets, throw pillows and rugs that can disguise spills and mishaps. Unless, of course, you prefer to look back years from now, fondly remembering where every adorable stain came from.

Keep an eye out for how quickly they grow

Babies are manageable until they can crawl or run. So rather than wait, start putting away anything in your home that might shatter or cause an injury if knocked over. (They will still be there in three, four or five years.) Similarly, be mindful of your child’s age. Things you got for your new baby which were safe, such as play gyms, can become a hazard as they grow.

Ensure a safe sleep

For all the interrupted, exhausting nights parents endure, babies sleep a lot – as much as 16 hours a day, in fact. So nothing is more important than where they sleep. Pick a crib with slats no wider than two inches and preferably one without corner posts. Also, be mindful of where you place the crib since cords from curtains or blinds can create a strangulation risk.

Prevent falls

The leading cause of death and nonfatal injuries in children under the age of one? Falls. Even after you’ve purchased a baby gate for your stairs, make sure it’s secure (use screws or bolts to fasten it to the wall) and does not easily unlatch. Also, remember babies can just as easily tumble from a sofa or bed. In other words: never let them out of your sight.

Guard against shocks

Electrical outlets, like falls, are an obvious danger as soon as your child can move around. You can buy outlets that are child-proof, but you should also use furniture to block access to them – along with power bars and cords – so your little one doesn’t even think about going there.