Home Tips: Outdoor Living in Style

Quarantine or not, for many people, this will be the summer of the staycation. And if you are planning to spend the next few months at home — rather than hop on a plane or venture to a not-so-socially-distant destination — now may also be the time to update your outdoor living area. With a little work, whatever space you have can be transformed into a modern getaway-at-home with fresh air and style to spare. Here are a few upgrades and current trends to consider:

Fire it up

Who doesn’t love gathering with friends and family around a fire under the stars? So is it any surprise fire pits and outdoor fireplaces continue to endure — and grow — in popularity? First, they provide a center of interest and activity. Second, they give you more time to spend enjoying the outdoors —into the night and throughout the cooler months. And if you don’t want to burn wood and clean up ash, gas-fueled fireplaces eliminate the need altogether. Plus, creative homeowners can customize using different building materials other than simple brick and stone.

Movies al fresco

Drive-in theaters are surging in popularity, but there are also other ways to adapt to shuttered cinemas during what would normally be the kickoff to the summer movie season. One possibility: creating your own outdoor movie theater at home. By investing in a screen and projector, loved ones can gather to thrill to a blockbuster under the stars.

Show your colors

Faced with a concrete patio floor as flat and plain as, well, concrete? Add some life and texture with masonry stain or even resurface it with slate tiles. For a less work-intensive solution, splash some color around — whether with a sustainable, water-proof outdoor rug, pillows for the patio furniture or a deck umbrella to provide both personality and shade. And as always, plants can be relied upon to generate bursts of color and warmth in even the dreariest of spaces.

Take the party outside

With the current emphasis on staying at home as well as maintaining a physical distance from others, it only makes sense homeowners would turn to their own backyards to throw parties and entertain friends and family. Not surprisingly then, online searches for outdoor bars have reportedly more than doubled year over year. As well, online searches for outdoor kitchens have increased. And as we all know, the heart of any great party is the kitchen.

Turn on the lights

Outdoor lighting can be key to creating aura and atmosphere. String lighting, for instance, is an especially popular choice. While there are plug-in kits that are simple to install, you might also want to consider solar lights, which require neither batteries nor wiring. LEDs have made solar lights especially appealing to homeowners because they consume less power and can therefore last for hours on stored-up energy alone.

Mixing and matching

Whether in the form of furniture or as a decorative element, rope has emerged as a hot design trend for outdoor spaces, allowing homeowners to experiment with mixing and matching fabrics and materials — from wood and wicker to string and aluminum. Used judiciously, woven rope can add a touch of warmth and compliment colder materials such as steel. More practically, rope is durable, meaning it can weather wind and rain for years.

Valley Eats: Mexican Cuisine

Whether the beach, pier or hiking trails, these days much of what we love about Southern California appears to be under one restriction or another. That is, until you consider the food — specifically, Mexican fare. You might not be able to sit at a restaurant table to dine, but that shouldn’t stop you from indulging in cuisine that is as ubiquitous to the Valley as the Santa Ana winds themselves. Here are some of the best spots to order from now for takeout and delivery.

Conejo Valley

Casa Escobar Malibu

22969 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu 310-456-1999

Curbside takeout is available Wednesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Steeped in the Sonoran traditions of a bygone era, this family-owned restaurant on the Pacific Coast Highway specializes in classic Mexican dishes. While the locale’s ambiance might be off-limits due to the coronavirus, the food continues to provide the expected flavor. Their limited menu includes family-style trays of tacos and enchiladas as well as such favorites as burritos and fajitas. Their always-popular margaritas are also available.

Cisco’s

1712 E Avenida De Los Arboles, Thousand Oaks 805-288-6208

Takeout is available daily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Serving authentic Mexican fare for almost 50 years, Cisco’s offers a limited menu for takeout that includes quesadillas (including the roasted pasilla chili and cheese, stuffed with roasted pasilla chili, Monterey jack cheese and green onions), fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, burritos and chimichangas (like the Ultimate, stuffed with white meat chicken, refried beans, Spanish rice and jack cheese, then topped with sauce, cheese, green onions and tomatoes).

San Fernando Valley

Mi Ranchito Veracruz

13363 Saticoy Street, North Hollywood 818-287-6911
Takeout is available Sunday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Delivery is available through Postmates, Grubhub and UberEats.

This North Hollywood eatery remains open for takeout and delivery, meaning you still enjoy everything from their braised beef (with rice, black beans and guacamole) to their carne asada plate (grilled skirt steak with rajas poblanos, rice, beans and guacamole). And then, of course, there are the tamales, served Veracruz-style, and now including a bean and cheese vegan option.

Casa Vega

13301 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks 818-788-4868
Call ahead to order takeout or delivery.

A Sherman Oaks institution for more than 60 years, Casa Vega continues to operate from their Ventura Boulevard spot with a contactless drive-on-thru menu featuring house combos, street tacos, enchiladas, and family trays. Additionally, you can pick up eggs, bread, milk, tortillas, avocados, yellow onions, limes and tomatoes from among their marketplace items.

Santa Clarita Valley

Sabor Cocina Mexicana

23953 Newhall Ranch Road, Valencia 661-259-9002
Curbside pickup, takeout and delivery via Doordash are available Monday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Serving Santa Clarita since 2000, Sabor Cocina Mexicana continues to be open for curbside, takeout and delivery. Dishes on their to-go menu include taquitos (shredded chicken, guacamole, salsa verde, crema and queso fresco), tacos (stuffed with choices of spicy pork, ribeye steak or grilled filet mignon) and chile relleno (crispy Anaheim chile with cheese, crema and roasted chile-tomato sauce). Their family kits include a dozen tortillas, guacamole, salsa, chips, rice and beans. And to finish your meal off, try some vanilla flan or churros for dessert.

Medrano’s Mexican Restaurant 

19319 Soledad Canyon Road, Santa Clarita 661-367-4945
Takeout and delivery daily from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Dishes on their to-go menu range from soups (Albondigas or chicken tortilla) to salads (including the seafood salad with Abalone, octopus, cold shrimp and crab) to such favorites as burritos, tacos and taquitos. Items ordered from the junior menu, aimed at ages three to 10, come with rice and refried beans or French fries. If you wish to feed a lot of people (say, 15 to 20), you can choose from their selection of (very) large family platters.

 

 

LA Eats: Mexican Cuisine

Whether the beach, the pier or the hiking trails near the Hollywood sign, everything Angelinos adore about Los Angeles seems to be under one restriction or another. That is, until you consider the food — specifically, the Mexican food. True, you might not be able to sit at a restaurant table to dine, but that shouldn’t stop you from indulging in cuisine that is as ubiquitous to the region as the Santa Ana winds themselves. Here are some of the best Mexican restaurants to order from now for takeout and delivery.

Tallula’s

118 Entrada Drive, Santa Monica  310-526-0027
Open for curbside pickup, takeout and delivery. Dinner runs daily from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Weekend brunch goes Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

With or without dine-in, this beachside cantina continues to serve up such inspired Mexican fare as its signature burritos and tacos, stuffed with meats like organic chicken verde, sauteed chili shrimp and curried beef. Also on the menu: family-sized taco platters, along with enchiladas, chilaquiles, as well as margaritas, beer and wine. They take phone orders from Friday to Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m., and from Sunday to Thursday, starting at 2 p.m.

Guelaguetza

3014 W. Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles  213-427-0608
Curbside pickup and takeout: Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For delivery, order through Grubhub or Doordash.

This authentic Oaxacan restaurant is famed for its moles ranging from the coloradito (sweet, served with chicken breast, thigh or spare pork ribs) to the amarillo (yellow mole stew offered with chicken, beef or spare pork ribs) to the rojo (spicier red mole with smacks of chocolate, served with chicken breast, thigh or spare pork ribs). Their Guelaguetza tamal de mole, cooked with banana leaves and filled with mole and shredded chicken, is one of their most popular dishes. As well, they are currently offering family-style meals and kits for takeout and delivery.

Petty Cash Taqueria

7360 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles 323-933-5300
Pick-up and delivery is available through their website and Tock.

Along with the build-your-own-taco kits, quesadillas have returned at this taqueria. Among the ones available: pork ahumada, beef brisket, jidori chicken adobo, and portobello mushroom and sweet potato. Or simply enjoy their traditional cheese quesadilla. The taco kits, by the way, include such options as beef brisket and jidori chicken as well as poblano rice and beans.

Toca Madera

8450 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles 323-852-9400
Curbside pickup and takeout: Monday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sundays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Delivery is offered through Postmates, DoorDash, UberEats and Caviar.

This upscale cantina’s menu for curbside includes the build-your-own taco box, which serves four to six people (with chicken tinga, carne asada, cilantro lime rice, black beans, street corn, shaved cabbage, chihuahua cheese and 12 tortillas); the grande familia, serving up to six (with American wagyu sirloin, chicken al pastor, pozole rojo soup, salad, and sides including cilantro lime rice along with a dozen tortillas); and the enchilada meal, serving four (with such options as chicken tinga, chipotle-smattered tofu and cheese-only).

 

Streaming: Classic Summer Movies

If summer is a state of mind, it can’t truly be cancelled. So despite the uncertainty surrounding the next few months, what better way to rekindle the mood and possibly a few memories of summers past than by sitting down to enjoy a classic summer movie? From camp counselors to amusement parks to kids (and parents) facing the prospect of those dreaded family vacations, it’s the next best thing to lugging the surf, sand and hot sun into your home.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Streaming On: Netflix

“Righteous dude” Ferris Bueller gives Matthew Broderick his signature role as a slick suburban slacker with everything: a wise, beautiful girlfriend, a loyal best friend, a penchant for cutting classes, and the near-superhuman ability to never suffer the consequences. With graduation nearing, Ferris takes one last day off to enjoy the city of Chicago in a “borrowed” Ferrari. The late director John Hughes is known for deeply-felt teen films like The Breakfast Club, but with this clever, fourth-wall-breaking comedy, he delivered his masterwork. FOR AGES: 12 and up

Stand By Me

Streaming On: Amazon Prime

Adapted from Stephen King’s short story The Body, Rob Reiner’s coming-of-age drama finds four friends confronting life, death and their own demons during the 1959 Labor Day weekend — after which they will be set on different paths as young men. To paraphrase the film’s narrator, “I never had friends like the ones I had at 12. Does anyone?” FOR AGES: 13 and up

Dirty Dancing

Streaming On: Amazon Prime

A drowsy resort in the Catskills becomes the unlikely stage for a sweaty, salsa-stepping romance between spoiled teenager Baby (Jennifer Grey) and roguish dance instructor Johnny (Patrick Swayze). The movie’s iconic moments continue to be referenced elsewhere — from the climatic “Lift” to Johnny’s declaration, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” FOR AGES: 12 and up

National Lampoon’s Vacation

Streaming On: Amazon Prime

Hapless family man Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) insists on driving his wife and kids from Chicago to Los Angeles only to have his well-intended attempt at “quality time” go horribly wrong at every turn. Directed by Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters), the humor is broad and crude, but for anyone who has ever endured a forced summer getaway with their family, it’s impossible not to relate — and laugh. FOR AGES: 13 and up

Wet Hot American Summer

Streaming On: Hulu

This raunch-a-thon about summer camp counselors in the 1980s bombed when it was released in 2001, but developed such a cult following that Netflix revived it as a series in 2015. Of course, it helps when your largely-unknown cast includes such now-A-listers as Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper and Amy Poehler. As the title suggests, it aims to spoof the teen sex comedies of the era. FOR AGES: 16 and up

Dazed and Confused

Streaming On: Hulu

“Alright, alright, alright” — this 1993 Richard Linklater film is best remembered for Matthew McConaughey’s breakout turn as 20-something, high school hanger-on David Wooderson, who observes of high school girls, “I get older, they stay the same age.” Set during the last day of school in 1976, the film also counts a pre-fame Ben Affleck among its ensemble. FOR AGES: 16 and up 

Adventureland

Streaming On: Hulu

When his parents tell him that he needs to get a summer job instead of traveling to Europe, James (Jesse Eisenberg) winds up working at a run-down amusement park where he meets — and bonds with — a co-worker named Emily (Kristen Stewart). Ryan Reynolds turns up in a supporting role as the park’s sleazy maintenance man. FOR AGES: 16 and up

Now and Then

Streaming On: Amazon Prime

Four childhood friends — played by Demi Moore, Rosie O’Donnell, Melanie Griffith and Rita Wilson — reunite to recall a pivotal summer in their lives. Although a critical flop in 1995, this sentimental, female-led, coming-of-age story has developed a loyal following in the decades since its release. FOR AGES: 12 and up

Out and About: Road Trips

It’s the journey, not the destination. Words to live by when planning a road trip — especially when social distancing is a must. With summer vacation plans possibly curtailed or scrapped altogether by COVID-19­ — and with outdoor activities still restricted — you may be tempted to hit the highways to embrace California’s ubiquitous road culture. Here are a few to consider enjoying from behind the wheel. And remember, if you do park to take a picture or explore, do so while wearing a mask and maintaining a physical distance from other like-minded roadsters.

Angeles Crest Highway

Constructed between 1929 and 1956, the Angeles Crest Highway boasts awe-inspiring Alpine views within a short drive of downtown Los Angeles. Starting from La Canada Flintridge near Pasadena, it spans 66 miles through the San Gabriel Mountains to State Highway 138 east of Wrightwood. At the Dawson Saddle, the road ascends to a summit of almost 8,000 feet.

Joshua Tree National Park

About 140 miles from Los Angeles, this 800,000-acre protected space derives its name from the distinctive, bent succulents that populate the area. Conjoining the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park is famed for its desolate, rugged beauty. On May 22, the park began a phased reopening, collecting fees at entrance booths. However, visitor centers and group campsites remain temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mulholland Highway

Although sections of the highway have been closed since 2018’s Woosley Fire, this 55-mile stretch remains one of the most iconic roads in popular culture. Snaking its way through the Santa Monica Mountains, Mulholland Highway reveals breathtaking views of downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley while skimming past the homes of such Hollywood legends as Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.

Lake Arrowhead

For a relatively short 86-mile drive to clear your mind, consider heading to this gorgeous town set on a pristine azure mountain lake. Located about 23 miles from San Bernardino, it’s no wonder this area is known as “the Alps of Southern California.” While much of the shoreline is dotted by private homes, there remains plenty of stunning outdoor space to unwind in.

National Old Trails Highway

Also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, this roadway was part of the famed Route 66 until the construction of Interstate 40. Since 1985, it has been called the National Old Trails Highway. Mostly abandoned these days, it spans 175 miles through the Mojave Desert from Victorville to Needles. If you do choose to drive this chapter of American history, remember it offers little in the way of services.

Highway 126 Heritage Valley

Not far from Six Flags Magic Mountain is Highway 126, which links Interstate 5 in Santa Clarita to U.S. Route 101 in Ventura, running west through the towns of Piru, Fillmore, Santa Paula and the national landmark of Spanish Rancho Camulos. Along the way, expect roadside farm stands and vintage railroad landmarks as well as citrus and avocado orchards.

Rodeo News: Syd Leibovitch and Josh Flagg Recognized in the 2020 LABJ 500 List

The Los Angeles Business Journal just released the 2020 LABJ Top 500 List, honoring the most influential leaders and executives in Los Angeles. Our Founder & CEO, Syd Leibovitch was recognized along with one of our Top Producing agents, Josh Flagg.

Learn more about Leibovitch and Flagg here:

Leibovitch, Syd — Rodeo Realty Inc.

THE LATEST: Leibovitch founded Rodeo Realty Inc. more than 30 years ago. The Beverly Hills-based company has since grown to include more than 1,200 licensed agents and brokers, and 12 offices in L.A. and Ventura counties. In 2019, Rodeo Realty closed more than 5,000 transactions totaling roughly $5 billion in sales.

BACKGROUND: Leibovitch received his real estate license while still a senior at UCLA; he started during his winter break, selling three homes in his first two weeks. The decision not only led him to withdraw from the UCLA track team to focus on selling real estate but also prompted him to skip law school. In 1986, at the age of 25, he started what became Rodeo Realty. Within one year, the company grew to nearly 100 realtors, some of whom are still there. It remains one of the largest single-owner residential real estate companies in California.

YEARS ON THE LA500: 3

Flagg, Josh — Rodeo Realty Inc.

THE LATEST: Flagg sold $266 million worth of real estate in L.A. in 2019, good for the No. 12 spot on the Business Journal’s annual list of top residential real estate agents. He sold 54 properties in the county. Flagg is one of the stars of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.”

BACKGROUND: The agent with the longest tenure on “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles,” Flagg has sold more than $2 billion worth of properties in his career. His clients include Shonda Rhimes, Adam Levine and Steve Aoki. Flagg is on the board of governors for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Temple of the Arts and Los Angeles Jewish Home. He is also involved with Friends of the Israel Defense Forces and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. His grandmother, sportswear designer Edith Flagg, was a Holocaust survivor. Josh Flagg and his husband, Bobby Boyd, run the Josh Flagg and Bobby Boyd Family Foundation.

YEARS ON THE LA500: 2

Valley Eats: Memorial Day Barbeque

With large gatherings banned and parades cancelled altogether, this is probably not the unofficial kickoff to summer you were looking forward to. But remember: Memorial Day is the day of the griller, so don’t be discouraged. Whatever this holiday weekend’s hurdles, you can still dive into a cookout feast, thanks to any of the following barbeque-sauce-slathered eateries.

 

CONEJO VALLEY

Red’s Barbecue and Grillery

3090 Cochran Street, Simi Valley 805-581-9076

Expect such traditional barbeque favorites as ribs, chicken and loaded baked potatoes at this Simi Valley restaurant, which also serves salads, including the chopped barbeque chicken salad, as well as burgers and garlic rolls. Curbside pickup or contactless delivery is available daily. Call ahead to order.

 

Ranch Hand BBQ

1015 Broadbeck Drive, Unit A, Newbury Park 805-375-4252

This family-owned restaurant has been serving up classic barbeque fare in the Conejo Valley since 2011. For takeout or delivery, the menu ranges from the signature tri-tip steak slow-cooked over red oak to the tri-tip sandwich on a grilled French roll to the shredded beef brisket.

 

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY

 

AJ’s Tex-Mex Barbecue

12123 Riverside Drive, Valley Village  818-505-8865

The Central Texas-style barbeque at this joint includes specialities like brisket, ribs, chorizo and queso. Also on the menu: all-day breakfast tacos, barbecue sandwiches and such comfort food sides as mac and cheese and tater tots. They open at 11 a.m., offering contactless curbside pickup or free delivery.

 

Swinging Door BBQ

11018 Vanowen Street No. 6313, North Hollywood 818-763-8996

Expect meats galore at this Texas-style barbeque joint place — from tri tip, brisket and pork ribs (baby back and St. Louis spare ribs) to chicken, sausage and pulled pork. Takeout and delivery are available Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 

SANTA CLARITA

The Backyard Grub n’ Brews

26509 Golden Valley Road, Santa Clarita 661-286-1165

This casual all-American restaurant is offering family meals, including a ribs and barbeque chicken feast: full rack of St. Louis style ribs, four barbeque chicken breasts, baked beans, slaw and garlic toast. Takeout and delivery are available Tuesday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

18742 Soledad Canyon Road, Santa Clarita 661-251-0840

House-smoked meats, including fall-off-the-bone ribs, stuffed baked potatoes and all the traditional sides are up for sauce-covered grabs at this chain restaurant. Curbside pickup or delivery is available by ordering online, via their app or by calling 866-BARBECUE.

Out and About – Celebrating Memorial Day Safely

We will never forget this Memorial Day weekend. While typically a three-day tradition that marks the unofficial start of summer with outdoor celebrations and parades, this year when we honor those who have lost their lives while serving in the military, it will have to be from home. With Southern California and the rest of the world still edging toward a new normal during COVID-19, events to celebrate Memorial Day on May 25 have moved to digital platforms. From virtual dedications to live-streamed concerts, there are many ways to enjoy the holiday safely.

Dedicate a digital poppy 

The red poppy flower came to signify remembrance almost a century ago, influenced by the First World War poem entitled In Flanders Fields. This year the site PoppyInMemory.com offers multiple virtual ways to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives while serving our country, including dedicating a digital poppy to a fallen hero or simply educating yourself about the battles they fought and the lives that were lost.

Watch the New West Symphony Memorial Day Concert

Curated and under the direction of Grammy-winning music director Michael Christie, the New West Symphony is performing a virtual Memorial Day concert May 25 live from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. People who register can provide a veteran’s name and it will be shared during the event. Such classics as America the Beautiful as well as Bernstein’s Somewhere from West Side Story are expected to be performed by special guests Sean Chen on piano and Grammy-winning soprano Jessica Rivera.

Take in the National Memorial Day Concert

It won’t be taking place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol this year, but the annual National Memorial Day Concert is still being broadcast May 24 on PBS. Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise are hosting the event, which will feature fresh performances and new tributes from various locations around the country. As well, it will look back at past concerts.

Listen to military heroes tell their stories

According to its website, with its Military Voices Initiative, StoryCorps  — a non-profit organization that aims to record, preserve and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds  —  wants to provide “a platform for veterans, service members, and military families to share their stories. In doing so we honor their voices, amplify their experiences, and let them know that we — as a nation — are listening.”

And if you do leave the house, do so safely

Southern Californians should stay close to home and cover their faces when outside. But the recent re-openings of trails, beaches and some national and state parks will certainly lure people from their homes. If you do head out, remember to wear a face covering while practicing physical distancing. Here is a brief rundown of what is open to the public:

– National parks:  California’s favorite parks are only starting to allow visitors. First among them: Joshua Tree, which has reopened its road, trails and some campsites.

– State parks: The Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in the Baldwin Hills area of L.A. is open. State parks which remain closed include the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

National forests: Southern California’s four forests — Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino — vary on trail access and parking. Check their websites for the latest updates.

– Farmers Markets: About 34 farmers markets are open in the city, including the Historic Downtown L.A. Farmers’ Market.

– Beaches: In L.A. County, as in Orange and Ventura counties, beaches are open for swimming, surfing, running and walking. But don’t linger.

Griffith Park: The trails have reopened, but the observatory is closed.

– Santa Monica Mountains: The trails, parking lots and restrooms of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area are open again. The visitor centers remain shuttered.

Streaming – Summer TV Series Preview

Once upon a time, summer was for reruns. Original programming went into Carbonite freeze until the fall. And everyone left their living rooms to go to the movies or to simply enjoy the outdoors. Times, as they say, have changed. Now we have the “streaming wars,” during which time nobody gets the summer off. In fact, the next two months will see the debut of two all-new streaming services featuring original shows and legacy content. HBO Max, which debuts May 27, boasts Friends, The Sopranos, and Elmo. Then July 15 brings us Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, which launches with a roster including Parks and Recreation, Despicable Me, and the Saturday Night Live catalog. So whatever the status of the lockdown is, you really have no reason to leave your home this summer. Here then are 10 series to watch for.

Homecoming

Debuts: May 22, Amazon Prime

Julia Roberts is not returning for the second season of this conspiracy thriller, based on the popular paranoia-infused podcast. Instead pop star Janelle Monae takes the reins as a new character: an amnesiac trying to learn who she is and how she is connected to the mysterious, creepily corporate Geist Group.

Love Life 

Debuts: May 27, HBO Max

HBO Max launches with this anthology about the romantic, comedic travails of a young woman (Anna Kendrick) living in New York City. According to the streaming service, the show “will follow a different protagonist’s quest for love each season, with each half-hour episode telling the story of one of their relationships.”

The Not Too Late Show with Elmo

Debuts: May 27, HBO Max

With the help of a few of his friends (including Cookie Monster), Elmo joins the likes of Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel — albeit with much more adorability. Interview guests include John Mulaney and fellow late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon. Along the way, music stars like Kacey Musgraves and Lil Nas X cover such Sesame Street classics as “Rubber Ducky.”

Central Park

Debuts: May 29, Apple TV Plus

Josh Gad — currently seen assembling the casts of such classic films as The Goonies and Back to the Future for his YouTube channel Reunited Apart — headlines this animated comedy about a family who lives in Central Park. Other vocal talent on-board includes Leslie Odom, Jr., Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs and Stanley Tucci.

Space Force 

Debuts: May 29, Netflix

If you chuckled at the thought of the country having a “Space Force,” you’re not alone. So did The Office chieftain Greg Daniels and Steve Carell, who have reunited for this military-themed workplace comedy. Carell stars as a respected general tasked with making sure the “Space Force” achieves liftoff. The cast includes John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz and Tawny Newsome.

Fuller House 

Debuts: June 2, Netflix

The idea of a decades-in-the-making sequel to Full House was greeted with derision when it was pitched around Hollywood. But its runaway success inspired the casts of every vintage series from Will and Grace to Mad About You to reunite for their own victory laps. Now, though, it’s time to say goodbye again to the housemates as the comedy wraps up its five-season run.

Perry Mason 

Debuts: June 21, HBO

Before he was a lawyer made famous by Raymond Burr, Perry Mason was a down-on-his-luck gumshoe scavenging the streets of 1930s Los Angeles. That’s the concept behind this drama starring Matthew Rhys (The Americans), John Lithgow and Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany. Interestingly, Robert Downey Jr., who is one of the producers, was originally going to star.

Brave New World 

Debuts: July 15, Peacock

Last seen as the youthful Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story, Alden Ehrenreich stars as John the Savage in this adaptation of the seminal 1932 novel by Aldoux Huxlety, in which a future utopian society has managed to attain peace and order by eliminating emotion and desire.

Lovecraft Country

Debuts: August (exact date to be announced), HBO

Jordan Peele, J.J. Abrams and Misha Green adapt Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel about supernatural horrors lurking among the real-life horrors of 1950s Jim Crow America. Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Courtney B. Vance star in this thriller about an African-American man (Majors) searching for his missing father while confronting monsters, both human and otherwise.

Cursed 

Debuts: Summer (exact date to be announced), Netflix

The latest retelling of the legend of Camelot focuses on Nimue, a rebellious teenager — as well as the future Lady in the Lake — who recruits a mercenary named Arthur to help her bring a mysterious sword to an ancient wizard. Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why) stars as the young heroine. Cursed is based on the illustrated YA novel by Tom Wheeler and comic-book legend Frank Miller (300, The Dark Knight Returns).

 

Home Tips: Building Your Home Gym

Maybe you’ve been waiting for the lockdown on your gym to be lifted. Or you thought a weekly energetic stroll around the neighborhood would suffice. But let’s face it: it’s been two months since your last squat or lunge and it’s finally time to assemble your own exercise regiment. But before you shop online for expensive treadmills and bikes, think again. Instead, opt for some multipurpose equipment. Here are five essentials you will want when building your home gym.

A MAT

A critical component for bodyweight work, especially pilates, stretching and, of course, yoga. After all, if you’re not comfortable on your floor kneeling and contorting, then you’re going to resist the idea of working out at all. An online search will point you to the best mats — from thick to really, really thick. Not surprisingly, they are proving quite in-demand these days.

RESISTANCE BANDS

If you want to shape your body without overspending or taking up too much space in your home, you’ll need to pick up some resistance bands. These will give you the flexibility to perform a broad range of workouts. Rowing and pulling motions will work the upper back and core, for example. For more strenuous routines such as squats, you can double or triple up on bands.

A SKIPPING ROPE

It sounds deceptively easy, but a rudimentary skipping rope can give you a worthwhile cardio workout. Skipping for half an hour or more actually increases your aerobic fortitude. It also tones the upper arms and shoulders and boosts coordination. (There is a reason why every Rocky movie includes skipping as part of the climatic workout.) More practically, you take a skipping rope wherever you go and challenge yourself with increasingly intensive moves as you improve.

KETTLEBELLS

If bodyweight training does not appeal to you, a kettlebell can offer a range of strength-focused options. It is also an effective alternative to the professional gym equipment you have been locked away from. These cannonball-shaped weights have handles, so you can grip them with one or both hands. They are measured in “pood.” One pood is the equivalent of 36.1 lbs.

A MIRROR

You don’t need a personal trainer when you have a mirror. Watching yourself work out will help you adapt your form and reduce the chance of injury. But if you want something more than that slate of glass hanging on your wall, you could opt for the screen-turned-trainer digital program, Mirror, which transforms a mirror into a screen that plays live and recorded workouts. At $1,500, it isn’t cheap, but if you love working out to YouTube videos, it’s irresistible.