the little market

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Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla

Last night my dear friend Hannah Skvarla invited me to the launch party of her newest endeavor with her bff Lauren Conrad – the little market.

Inside the Citizens of Humanity on Beverly Blvd. the two lovely ladies showed guests all of the products they sell on their website www.thelittlemarket.com

Hannah volunteers for Human Rights Watch and has travelled the world seeking creating opportunities for communities struggling with poverty in developing countries. Lauren Conrad was a former television reality star and now a best selling author and fashion maven for Paper Crown and LC Lauren Conrad lines.

Hannah and Conrad met years ago at FIDM in Los Angeles. Lauren was one of Hannah’s bridesmaids at her wedding and is now helping Lauren with her upcoming wedding. Throughout the years, their friendship blossomed into a vision of sustainable support for women and their families. This dynamic duo created the little market to help artisan groups in developing countries around the world.

Hannah and Lauren help these talented artisan partners showcase their skills to a broader audience.  The work from these groups is funded through earnings from the sales of their fair trade and locally made products.

On the little market website you will find artisan aprons and scarfs with matching beanies made from Alpaca wool. For babies, they sell adorable knit bears and knit cardigans with matching caps. There is also a home decor section and must-have holiday gifts. Many are perfect as a hostess gift for a holiday party. They sell a felt elephant that would make a beautiful ornament for a Christmas tree.

The little market is a place where a global community can come together to combat poverty, empower communities, and create social justice.

This dove is handmade by Nepalese artisan women.

This dove is handmade by Nepalese artisan women.

These two entrepreneurs were on the Katie Couric show Oct. 15 showing Ms. Couric some of their products from around the world. One that caught my eye was a beautiful little felt dove adorned with beads and sparking sequences. Hannah and Lauren found these doves while visiting a group of ladies in Nepal. They sell them for $12. As soon as the show ended, these peaceful doves SOLD OUT. The artisans are crafting and shipping a new batch just as quickly as they can.

I received a felt dove upon leaving the event. On the tag, it said “Your purchase generates income for Nepalese artisans working with Friends Handicrafts. This organization fights urban poverty in Nepal by training and employing women in the art of felting. The income these women earn helps them provide the essentials for their families – food on the table and education for their children.

Do you holiday shopping and feel good about the gift that gives twice: providing work to women artisans and a beautiful handmade treasure to your loved ones.

Disneyland’s Decorated Jack o’lanterns

DSC_0155Visiting Disneyland during late Sept throughout the month of October is always a great way to get into the Fall spirit. There are also so many great decorating ideas for your home.

Main Street U.S.A has yellow and orange banners hanging from the eves and lovely pumpkin decorations displayed in windows.

Halloween Time at Disneyland brings a carnival-like atmosphere to the Big Thunder Ranch area with crafts, games, pumpkin carvers, live music and a slideshow tent.

If you stay until dark – Jack Skellington and the Disney Villains treat guests to a firework display in the sky and Mickey Mouse and many of the Disney Villains dance along to spooky music at Mickey’s Halloween Party.DSC_0132

Some of the Halloween treats sold around the park include Mickey Mouse cookies, candy corn colored cotton candy and flavored popcorn.

Here are some of my favorite Jack o’lanterns featured in Disneyland Park –DSC_0120

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A Los Angeles Gem – The Griffith Park Observatory

The magnificent doors

The magnificent doors

Standing in front of the Griffith Park Observatory gives locals and tourists an awe moment. Architects, astronomers, and public leaders helped Griffith J. Griffith’s achieve his dream to build the best public observatory in the world.

From Griffith’s bequest in 1919 to the Observatory’s dedication on May 14, 1935, the Observatory has welcomed 70 million visitors and is the world’s leader in public astronomy.

There is no admission fee to enter the Observatory and you don’t need a reservation. Check out the gorgeous metal and glass front doors. The building and grounds are visually beautiful everywhere you look. On a clear day one can see the snow-capped mountains, the sky scrapers of downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Century City and Santa Monica. Catalina Island and Palos Verdes rest next to the Pacific Ocean.

Here are five things you must see and do while at the Observatory:

1. The Central Rotunda is exquisite with its painted ceiling and walls celebrating the intersection of science and mythology, earth and sky. The gently swaying of the 240-pound brass ball, suspended by a 40 foot long cable – Foucault pendulum is hypnotizing. It’s one of the largest scientific instruments designed to demonstrate the Earth’s rotation. As the day passes, the pendulum knocks over pegs set up in the pendulum pit and indicates the progress of rotation.

2. Purchase tickets for one of the shows inside the Samuel Oschin Planetarium to see a state of the art laser digital show from a Zeiss star projector. The dome ceiling offers movie magic up on the walls and ceiling. The newest show – Time’s Up – examines the fundamental nature of time. Some of the shows have a live narrator. Children under 5 are admitted ONLY to the first show eachIMG_5030 day (12:45 p.m. on weekdays, 10:45 a.m. on weekends). Ticket prices range from $3 to $7. When outside before entering the theatre, take a peek at the multi-million dollar views.

3. See the Tesla Coil in the Hall of the Eye throw lighting-like arcs with sparks, while emitting a loud roar. It’s one of the most memorable and iconic exhibits. The Tesla coil converts low-voltage alternating current electricity to very high voltage and increases the frequency. It is named after its inventor, eccentric genius Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), who displayed his first model in 1891. The main aim of the Tesla coil was transmission of electricity through the air, without using wires. Expensive to build, Tesla and others worked on wireless electrical transmission networks. Though not wireless, the power grid that we use to bring electricity to our homes today is based on Tesla’s work. He would be so pleased to know a fully electric luxury car is now named after him.

4. Wear walking shoes. If you arrive on the weekend, the parking lot may be full. You may have to park on adjacent roads. After a visit, there are some interesting hiking trails surrounding the Observatory. Picnic tables are available too.

5. Walk through all the exhibits to learn more about our Universe. The Gunther Depths of Space is filled with interactive displays of the planets, our Earth, solar system, milky way galaxy and more. It’s fascinating.

Multi-million dollar views

Multi-million dollar views

The Observatory is closed on Mondays. To approach the Observatory take the Vermont or Fern Dell entrances into Griffith Park. Fern Dell is closed each evening at sunset. Handicapped parking is available near the building.

For more information, go to http://www.griffithobs.org/

National Taco Day in LA

Casa Vega

Casa Vega

National Taco Day is October 4. What better way to celebrate than to go to one of the restaurants below and order a giant margarita with a plate of tacos. Here are some deals my favorite restaurants are offering in honor of the soft or crispy taco –

Los Gringos Locos 

Since today is such a special day, Gringos is serving three roasted pork belly tacos with caramelized onions, spices, rice and beans for $10. This pairs nicely with a $5 Habanero, Jicama, Prickly Pear, Pineapple or Mango margarita. 631 Foothill Blvd. La Canada, (818)790-2696.
Casa Vega

The Valley’s celebrity hot-spot is offering beef taquitos con guacamole or crispy four chicken flautas with creamy salso roja for 50% off their normal price on Friday, October 4 to celebrate National Taco Day. 13301 Ventura Blvd (818)788-4868.

International flavors at Mondo Taco

International flavors at Mondo Taco

Taco Mondo

One of my favorite taco shops located in a mini-mall offers braised short rib with a horseradish slaw, Moroccan lamb with a chimichurri sauce, grilled shrimp with chili sesame oil, soyrizo with peppers and mushrooms, and shredded pork topped with Dijon mushroom cream. Order one of the thirst-quenching frescas. I love the fresh watermelon or refreshing blueberry/ginger beverage. 1292 S La Brea Ave. (323) 939-0161.

Petty Cash

Hang out on Beverly during National Taco Day at one of the coolest taquerias in town. Chef Walter Manzke and his staff are offering one taco of your choice with a Modena on draft for $8 on Friday. DJ Stepdad – Davie Fernie will provide great tunes. 7360 Beverly Blvd. (323)933-5300.

Goat Tacos

Ebanos Crossing in downtown Los Angeles is a newer dining venue offering goat tacos that are braised in Mediterranean spices and garnished with yogurt slaw and rosemary oil. Pair them with a rum, mezcal, or tequila cocktail. 200 S. Hill St. (213)935-8829.

Skinny Style Tacos

Tortilla Republic has tacos de jicama with thinly sliced jicama “tortillas” filled with shrimp, chipotle mayo, cilantro, red onion, avocado and roasted corn salsa served on butter lettuce wraps. They also serve a sweet potato hibiscus flower taco has jicama, beets, queso fresco, sweet potato, hibiscus vinaigrette and cilantro. Both go nicely with a margarita. 616 N. Robertson Blvd. (310)657-9888.

Skinny taco at Tortilla Grill

Skinny taco at Tortilla Republic

Tacos for Bacon Lovers

Loteria Grill offers the “Three Little Pigs” tacos with juicy carnitas, crispy bacon with salsa morita, finely chopped onion and cilantro with pork rind chips. Farmers Market – 6333 W 3rd St. (323)930-2211, Hollywood – 6627 Hollywood Blvd. (323)465-2500, Studio City – 12050 Ventura Blvd. (818)508-5300, Westlake Village – 180 Promenade Way (805)379-1800 and Santa Monica – 1251 3rd St. (310)393-2700.

Happy Hour at Frida

Enjoy a good deal at the Americana at Brand during Happy Hour from 3 to 7 p.m. All drink specials and draft beers are $4. Sangria and well drinks are $5. Sip a martini, mojitos or margaritas for $6. Wines by the glass are $4 or order a bottle for $15. All go well with tacos. 750 Americana Way (818)551-1666

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Sushi Roku

Sushi Roku

Roku Style” Albacore Tacos fuse Latin American and Japanese cuisines, wrapping chunks of albacore tuna in crispy wonton wrappers before topping them with creamy guacamole and a tangy Asian salsa. 8445 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, (323) 655-6767 and 33 Miller Alley, Pasadena (626)683-3000.

M Café

Macrobiotic cuisine enthusiasts love the Tokyo TJ Tacos, featuring soy-and sake-marinated black cod or tofu in warm, sprouted corn tortillas with avocado, daikon sprouts, pickled onions, shredded cabbage, and yuzu mayo, served with choice of pinto or black beans, crispy corn chips and lime. 7119 Melrose Ave. (323)525-0588 and 9433 Brighton Way (310)858-8459.

Paiche

If you are in the Marina del Rey area, Ricardo Zarate makes a wonder Paiche Lettuce Wrap made with pieces of the Amazonian fish anticucho miso-marinated and grilled with crispy sweet potato. 13488 Maxella Ave  Marina del Rey
(310) 893-6100

M.A.K.E.

For a raw, living foods spin on the classic Vietnamese sandwich, check out Matthew Kenney’s Banh Mi Taco, with maitake mushrooms, guacamole, chipotle crème, carrot, and radish. 395 Santa Monica Place #333, (310) 394-7046.

Taco at M.A.K.E

Taco at M.A.K.E

Bibigo

Korean BBQ has joined the taco trend with Bibigo’s Green Taco filled with bulgogi in Boston lettuce, and topped with pickled daikon slices, pickled pepper, cilantro, and fresh tomato salsa dressing. Get a taco and beer at all three locations- 1091 Broxton Ave. (310) 824-0011, 225 S. Beverly Dr. Beverly Hills (310) 275-0011 and 10252 Santa Monica Blvd. (Century City Mall) (310) 557-0011.