Streaming: January Top Picks

With the new year at hand, that means it is a new month of streaming releases. Check out these January releases across all major streaming platforms. From the highly anticipated Wandavision to a classic like Godfellas, you will be sure to stay entertained this month. 

WandaVision

Where to Watch: Disney+ 

This is a blend of classic television and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) — two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives — begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems. 

Headspace: Guide to Meditation

Where to Watch: Netflix 

Take a deep breath and start off 2021 by being kind to your mind. Over the course of eight animated episodes, Andy Puddicombe — former Buddhist monk and co-founder of the globally beloved Headspace meditation app — takes viewers through the benefits and science behind meditation.  

Goodfellas

Where to Watch: Netflix

The dramatized version of Henry Hill’s exploits with the mafia has become one of the most revered mob films ever made.

 Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!

Where to Watch: Disney+ 

Based on the beloved children’s book, an elephant becomes a reluctant hero when he discovers the microscopic city of Who-ville and embarks on an adventure to save the tiny town from the dangers of the jungle. (Disney +) 

Things to Do: Staying at Home

Things to Do: Staying at Home 

Below you will find a list of fun things that you can try at home with your family as we continue to hunker down during the pandemic. 

Read a New Book 

Many people are confused when they are told to consider reading as a family activity, but there is an easy to read a book together with your family, and that is to listen to an audiobook. But not many book lovers like the concept of an audiobook and they want to read the book by themselves. You can also take turns reading a hard copy of a book, and leaves notes for the next person who reads it after you. Then, once everyone has finished the book, you can have a family discussion about it, sort of like a book club!

Make Homemade Greeting Cards

Personalized greeting cards are a great way to tell your relatives that you have been thinking about them. And what’s better than bringing your entire family together when crafting a card for your loved ones? The supplies that you need for creating a card are easily available at an arts and crafts shop. Take a trip to a nearby shop and choose the products that you think will be perfect for your cards. After that, dedicate a weekend to this activity, and make personalized cards for your family members and friends.

Create a scrapbook

Scrapbooks are a way of arranging and presenting personal and family history. Creating a scrapbook as a family activity is a good way to help children learn about their family members. With family photos of everyone from their great grandparents to their third cousin, a scrapbook can be used to preserve every small detail of a family.

Make a Family Video

Family videos are a great way to relive the exciting moments that you shared with your family members. And with today’s advanced technology, making a video is as simple as turning on your smartphone. No matter what you are doing, turn your phone to video mode and make some memories.

LA & Valley Eats: Local Restaurants

Now it is more important than ever to support your favorite local restaurants— that is, if you are opting to eat takeout from restaurants. Check out some of our favorite spots below!

Pasjoli – Santa Monica

Dave Beran’s Santa Monica French restaurant has developed into one of the Westside’s most dependable restaurants, with excellent renditions of Parisian bistro dishes with a California mentality. As outdoor dining rooms are on hiatus, Beran plans to adjust the takeout menu with bigger portions and easier pricing, plus oven-ready family meals.

Spoon By H – Hollywood

Yoonjin Hwang’s humble but charming dessert shop garnered city-wide attention when chef David Chang blasted on his Instagram as his favorite restaurant of 2018. But Hwang has been cooking innovative but polished Korean home cooking for years, hiding under the radar and guise of immaculate fruit teas and gorgeous crisp waffles. Spoon by H is a true example of what makes eating in LA great, from a comforting bowl of pork dumpling soup to a killer spam fried rice.

Needle – East LA

Ryan Wong’s casual Cantonese restaurant in Silver Lake continues to impress with a revolving menu of every classics. The pork chop bun, char siu pork rice, and beef curry are must orders. The small patio came online a few weeks ago, but will be closed temporarily due to new county restrictions.

Mizlala – Sherman Oaks

Danny Elmaleh and wife Justine opened this Middle Eastern restaurant in an unexpected Sherman Oaks slot serving reasonably priced small plates that display a wealth of flavor and cooking technique. The neighborhood has discovered the place too, with packed tables on many nights in the rather small space. It all adds to the charm, with Greek salad, falafel, hummus, and lamb shawarma as the menu highlights. The West Adams location has a smaller, more casual menu that excels nonetheless. Both are open for takeout and delivery.

Lum-Ka-Naad – Northridge

Northridge’s Lum-Ka-Naad is the kind of do-it-all Thai restaurant that Los Angeles loves to love. Tucked away deep in the Valley, this busy restaurant sits essentially between a glass wholesaler and a massage parlor on a busy bit of Reseda Boulevard, but still crowds in fans. The restaurant works lunch through dinner hours and a menu that canvasses both northern and southern Thailand; owners Alex and Ooi Sonbalee hail from different parts of the country, and wanted to show off the foods from both. Expect stellar noodles, grilled meats, soups and curries, and lots of salads.

Asanebo – Studio City

During the pandemic, the only thing missing from the Asanebo experience is chef Tetsuya Nakao’s impeccable attention to detail and service. He’s still cranking out those unique specialties, and many that are perfect for take-out — although most won’t make it past sitting in the parking lot. Order the seafood sticks, halibut yuzu, and the beautiful toro carpaccio.

Home Tips: Uplifting the Mood at Home

Just because residents of the Los Angeles and the Valley don’t have to winterize their homes against ice storms and nor’easters doesn’t mean the season can’t take a toll. For one thing, nothing saps the soul like shortened, grey days – especially when you’re accustomed to the blazing sun and blue skies. With a few weeks of winter left, here are some simple steps you can take around the home to keep winter gloom at bay as we all await brighter days ahead.

COLOR CORRECT

Switching up the palette of your home – from the walls and furniture to the window coverings and artwork – is a sure-fire way to jolt you out of a wintery-funk. Try coordinating the color of the space with its function. For example, add bright reds or yellows to active rooms like the kitchen. Conversely, warm tones of green or blue in the bedroom should soothe you to sleep.

LIGHTEN THINGS UP

When sunlight is spare, make sure you make the most of it. Ditch dark window coverings and blinds for clear, pale ones, keeping them open for as long as possible. And when night falls early, flip a switch. Make sure you have enough lamps and internal lighting to illuminate your surroundings. Just because it’s dark outside doesn’t mean you have to live in darkness.

POWER DOWN BEFORE YOU GO TO BED

Nothing makes you feel like you can tackle the world like a good night’s rest. One simple way to help you sleep? Keep the personal electronics out of the bedroom. (We said it was simple, not necessarily easy.) Embracing your sleeping space as a technology-free zone will let your mind unwind. And yes, that includes avoiding watching TV before your head hits the pillow.

MAKE IT PERSONAL

While decluttering always feels satisfying, don’t store away the things you love. Instead, display them in prominent places where they can bring into focus what you’re most proud of and what you’ve accomplished in life. Cherished memories and possessions with sentimental value can generate positive feelings as powerfully as unvarnished sunlight.

TAKE A LOOK IN THE MIRROR

We all remember the question: “Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” But as a decorative choice, mirrors aren’t about vanity at all. Rather, they act to play tricks with light: reflecting what little there may be, as well as creating the illusion of greater space. You’d be surprised at how much brighter and bigger a room feels when you add a mirror to it.

EXPLORE WINDOWS

A little (or a lot of) glass cleaner can go a long way in illuminating your home. Wipe them down and watch the sunlight pour in without dirt, dust, and grime muddying the way.

 

Economic Update for the Year Ending December 31, 2020

 

Stock market indexes ended the year at record highs – To call 2020 a year for Wall Street would be an understatement! The year started off with the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years and stock markets hitting record-high levels, but by March a once-in-a-century pandemic hit. As cases began to surge and hospitals become overwhelmed by a new virus that they had no experience in treating, state and local governments began issuing stay-at-home orders. That essentially shut down the U.S. economy. The virus was named COVID-19. As the economy shut down millions of workers were laid off. Within six weeks the unemployment rate went from a 50-year low of 3.5% to 14.7%, the highest rate since the Great Depression. Stock markets dropped 30% in one month. At the end of March, the federal government stepped in with the CARES Act that added $2.2 trillion in economic stimulus to the economy. The Federal Reserve dropped its key overnight rate to 0% and quickly began adding liquidity to the economy. Stocks rebounded and by August were once again reaching record highs. Retail sales also rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, and the real estate market surged, assisted by record-low mortgage rates. Price gains and housing sales numbers hit double-digit gains. In the final week of the year, two vaccines for COVID-19 had been approved for use, another $900 billion stimulus plan was signed into law that will be distributed in the first quarter of 2021, and all stock market indexes hit record highs. We enter 2021 with stocks at record highs, retail sales strong and the real estate market surging at historic levels. Unfortunately, at the same time, new COVID-19 cases are spiking, our hospitals are overwhelmed, healthcare workers are reaching a breaking point, unemployment remains high, and many people are suffering, which makes it difficult to explain the robust economic data and home sales. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the year at 30,606.48, up 7.2% from 28,538.44 at the close of 2019. The S&P 500 closed the year at 3,756.07, up 16.3% from 3,230.78 at the end of 2019. The NASDAQ closed at 12,888.28, up 43.6% from 8,972.60 on December 31, 2019.

U.S. Unemployment – The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate in November2020 was 6.7%, up from a 3.5%, a 50-year low, in December 2019. The country suffered massive layoffs after the pandemic began in March. The unemployment rate peaked in April at 14.7%, the highest rate since the Great Depression. April marked a 10.3% increase in the unemployment rate, the largest monthly increase in history. Fortunately, the unemployment rate has steadily worked its way down. It was 6.7% in November and experts expect it will be a similar rate in December. Those figures will be released Friday, January 8, 2021.

U.S. Treasury Bond Yields dropped sharply in 2020 – The 10-year U.S. treasury bond yield closed the year at 0.93%, down from 1.92% On December 31, 2019. The 30-year treasury yield ended the year at 1.65%, down from 2.30% on Dec. 31, 2019. We watch bond yields because mortgage rates follow treasury bonds

Mortgage Rates dropped to historic lows in 2020 – The December 31, 2020, Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage average was 2.67%, down from 3.72% on December 28, 2018. The 15-year fixed was 2.17%, down from 3.16% last December. The 5-year ARM was 2.71%, down from 3.46% at the close of 2019.

Home sales data is reported on the third week of each month for the previous month. These are November’s results.

U.S. existing home sales – The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales totaled 6.69 million on a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate. Year-over-year that marked a 25.8% increase over the 5.32 million units sold on a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate in November 2019. The median price also increased to 14.6% year-over-year to $310,800 from $271,300 last November. That marked the 105th straight month of year-over-year increases in the median price. The median price figure includes all housing types: single-family, condominiums, townhomes, and co-ops. Unsold housing inventory sits at an all-time low of a 2.3-month supply, down from a 2.5-month supply one year ago.

California existing home sales – The California Association of Realtors reported that existing, single-family home sales totaled 508,820 on an annualized basis in November. That represented a year-over-year increase of 26.3% from the number of homes sold in November 2019 when single-family home sales totaled 402,880 on an annualized basis. It was the first time that monthly home sales exceeded 500,000 units on an annualized basis in 11 years, and the most homes ever sold in November. Home sales are homes that closed escrow. Pending home sales are new contracts signed. Those are at near-record levels as well. The median price paid for a home in California was $699,000, up 18.5% from the median price last November. Inventory levels were lower than one year ago. There was just a 1.9-month supply of homes for sale in November, down from a 3.1-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.

Things to Do: 3 Ways to Celebrate NYE at Home

From watching the ball drop at Times Square to a live-streamed concert, there are plenty of ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home this year.

Watch the Ball Drop

There may not be any crowds at Times Square this year, but that doesn’t mean the iconic celebration won’t still happen. This year, there will be performances by Gloria Gaynor and Andra Day, a segment honoring the “Heroes of 2020,” and of course the famous ball drop at midnight.

Stream a Live Concert

  • Justin Bieber will perform his first live concert since 2017 to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
  • BTS will perform with other K-pop stars in an online concert that can be viewed on Weverse.
  • The Avett Brothers will perform a virtual concert with appearances by Willie Nelson, Brandi Carlisle, Dax Shepard, and more.
  • YouTube’s “Hello 2021” concert will feature performances by Demi Lovato, J Balvin and Dua Lipa, as well as appearances by Matthew McConaughey, Jimmy Fallon, and more.
  • “United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America” will air live on PBS and feature performances from Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Josh Groban, Renee Fleming, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, the American Pops Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, and more.

Watch a New Year’s movie

Take a nostalgic trip to a New Year’s Eve of the past by watching a good movie. Check out our blog with a round up of NYE movies to watch!

 

 

LA & Valley Eats: New Years Eve Appetizers

If we are all staying up until at least midnight to ring in the new year, then finger food will be your best friend. Spice things up and make a few easy-to-make appetizers for you to choose from as you watch the ball drop this weekend.

Pasta Chips 

You’ve heard of toasted ravioli and now it’s time to learn about pasta chips! The perfect thing to dip in a bowl of warm marinara and snack away. These are dangerously addictive!

Pull-Apart Garlic Bread Pizza Dip

This cheesy and salty dish is sure to satisfy your cravings. Find the recipe online by searching the dish title above!

Antipasto Bites

Add anything you want to eat onto a small toothpick or stick. Serve them on a plate and enjoy!

Stuffed Mushrooms

Another classic dish that all mushroom lovers love. Salty, chewy, and buttery–delicious!

 

Streaming: New Years Classics

Ring in the new year with one of these classic movies that plays homage to all things new years, resolutions, and more. Check them out below!

Trading Places 

Two brothers who run a commodities brokerage in Philadelphia try some light social engineering when they switch the identities of their employee, Louis Winthorpe III, played by Dan Aykroyd, and a hustler, Billy Ray Valentine, played by Eddie Murphy. Jamie Lee Curtis is there to help them sort it out and get even. This classic comedy is really a holiday movie, because it takes place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, with one of the movie’s most crucial scenes taking place at a New Year’s Eve party aboard a train.

Bridget Jones Diary

In this romantic comedy, Renee Zellweger’s Bridget Jones keeps a diary for a year of romantic adventures (and misadventures). The movie begins and ends on New Year’s Eve, and it’s delightful as hell.

Ghostbusters 2 

It’s a far cry from Ghostbusters, but when the movie came out in 1989—five years after the first one—audiences delighted in seeing Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston back in action. The movie reaches its conclusion on New Year’s Eve, with a chorus of New Yorkers singing “Auld Lang Syne” in an attempt to defeat an evil spirit terrorizing the city.

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! 

Charlie Brown frets over a book report, a New Year’s Eve party, and a red-headed girl. And unlike A Charlie Brown Christmas, in the end, nothing turns out well for Charlie Brown in this 30-minute special.

LA & Valley Eats: Local Takeout

Now it is more important that ever to support our local businesses. If you are eating take out, we suggest you support your local restaurants! Check out some below to consider purchasing take out from.

The Six Chow House – Calabasas

The menu from this incredible eatery has all you could ever dream of. From Pizza to wings to nachos to roasted Brussel sprouts, this local eatery has all the crave-able items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Open for takeout!

Badmaash – West Hollywood & DTLA 

Chicken Tikka Poutine– Salty, savory, and covered in cheese curds, this dish from Badmaash is basically Priority Mail heaven-sent. Yes, it’s as messy and caloric as it sounds, but when something tastes this good, who even cares? Plus, the rest of their menu, from saag paneer to chili cheese naan, is also available to-go. Both locations of Badmaash (Fairfax and Downtown) are available for takeout and delivery via various platforms.

Papa Cristo’s Catering & Greek Taverna – Westlake & Koreatown

Part-deli, part-bakery, part-Greek grocer, Papa Cristo’s is, to borrow a very niche industry term, a “triple threat.” And while we can no longer loiter like truant teenagers in their spacious dining hall, even to-go, their fantastic Greek food is still good for almost any occasion, like a quick lunch, celebratory dinner, or for when you glanced at a calendar then accidentally thought “What is time, really?” for, like, way too long. So order some moussaka, “spanakopita” pizza, and double the amount of saganaki (fried cheese) you think you can eat. Papa Cristo’s Greek Grill is available for takeout and delivery, call (323) 737-2970 or find them on various delivery platforms.

Cecconis – West Hollywood

Cecconi’s serves hand-made pasta, seafood and dishes from Italy using the finest ingredients. Cecconi’s is a modern-day classic Italian restaurant with some of the best Italian take out in Los Angeles.

Polo Lounge @ Beverly Hills Hotel – Beverly Hills 

The Polo Lounge has been the favorite breakfast spot and watering hole for generations of stars and Hollywood deal-makers. Of course it is take out only at this time but don’t miss the opportunity to order some luxurious take out and some DIY cookie decorating kits!

Streaming: Holiday Movies

The weather outside may not be turning frightful in Southern California, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cozy up and watch a holiday movie this weekend. Check out this list of Holiday Movies that all tied at #1 by Rotten Tomatoes! 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Where to watch:  Amazon or iTunes

The 1967 animated feature about a green Scrooge-like character who attempts to ruin Christmas for a whole town is where the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” comes from. The movie and its music “always brings a surge of fuzzy nostalgia every Christmas season that never seems to get old,” IndieWire said. 

Meet Me in St. Louis 

Where to watch:  Amazon or iTunes

The 1944 MGM musical is where the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” comes from. BBC News called the film, which stars Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien and Lucille Bremer, one of “the best Hollywood musicals ever.” 

Carol 

Where to watch: Netflix

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara play women who become romantically involved during the Christmas season in 1950s Manhattan. The 2015 film was called a “memorable romance gift-wrapped for the holiday” by USA Today. 

The Shop Around the Corner

Where to watch: Amazon or iTunes

This 1940 film by Ernst Lubitsch is based on the 1937 Hungarian play “Parfumerie.” It later inspired the movie “You’ve Got Mail” and the musical “She Loves Me.” The Chicago Reader called the Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan film “a romantic comedy of dazzling range.”