Score Big with Winning Superbowl Party Food and Décor

Whether or not you are a football fan, the Superbowl is a great occasion for entertaining.  Give your living room a game day makeover and make your party a winner with these fun decorating and entertaining ideas.

Game On

The focus of every football party is the television, so make it worth watching.  The 39” Coby LEDTV3916 is an affordable ($329.99) full HD hi-res 1080p flatscreen loaded with features that make sports viewing a kick. The LED backlight delivers a vivid color picture with rich contrast, and the built-in SRS TRuSurround XT widens your audio “sweet spot” so all the couch quarterbacks in the room feel immersed in the game.  Equipped with HDMI for streamlined signal transmission and easy digital connections, this TV is a team player with all of your devices.  The digital noise reduction feature sidelines the imperfections in compressed video and enhances picture quality, displayed in Native Contrast Ratio, assuring vibrant and clear detail, deep blacks and bright whites without loss in definition. Bonus features include V-chip parental control and closed captioning. The LEDTV3916 sports a super-slim profile that fits anywhere, and it’s ENERGY STAR certified – supporting greener turf for many Superbowls to come.  Available on Amazon.

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Raise the Bar

Don’t worry if you don’t have one of those Mad Men wet bars in your rec room, you can wheel one in.  When it’s not serving as caddy for your morning coffee and bagel, the BrylaneHome Kitchen Cart with Breakfast Bar is the perfect set up for all your bartending needs.  Made of sturdy solid wood, this versatile cart features a drop leaf for extra bar top space; easy-open storage cabinets for all your booze and mixers; gliding drawers for bar towels, corkscrews and bottle openers; and a handy papertowel holder and a built-in rack on either end.  The heavy-duty locking rubber casters keep the cart in place, or you can roll the bar wherever you want it, and back to the kitchen in the morning.  $449 at www.BrylaneHome.com.

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Food Zone

Leave the bucket of chicken to someone else.  Bring on the taste to a potluck with Harry & David frozen gourmet entrees, like the savory Caramelized Onion & Bacon Quiche ($29.95), made with artisan smoked gouda cheese and Rogue Creamery Echo Mountain cheddar;  or a hearty and satisfying homemade Chicken Pot Pie ($39.95), filled with tender white meat chicken, sautéed onions, carrots, peas, celery, chunks of potato and a blend of herbs and spices, cased in a flaky, buttery crust.  Available at www.harryanddavid.com.

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Sweet Spot

Don’t just fill up your guests with bread; fill them up with great bread. Alexia’s new Sweet Potato Rolls are made with American-grown sweet potatoes, and they offer 8 grams of whole grains per serving.  These yummy rolls can be served by themselves or used to create tasty appetizers, like Sweet Potato Crostini.  Available at Ralph’s Vons, Target and other grocers nationwide.

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Half-Time Hottie

Serve up some meaty tacos or other sizzling delights at half time in the Deni Non-Stick PFOA-free Electric Skillet.  Its deep interior with a 12”x12” non-sticking cooking surface eliminates the need for oil or butter, and when set on warm it’s a handy, attractive serving dish that looks great on a buffet table.  After the party, it’s easy to hand wash.  1300 watts, tempered glass lid, and easy-read temperature probe for precise cooking.  Sale priced $39.99 at www.brylanehome.com.

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Bathroom Break

Just because a guest takes a personal time out, the party can go on, in the bathroom.  Carry your Superbowl party theme into the bathroom with a pot of wheatgrass on the tank or a shelf, adorned with team pennants.  Find more party decorating ideas in Cheryl Najafi’s New York Times best-selling guide to entertaining, You’re So Invited: Panic Less, Play More and Get Your Party On!

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The Simplicikey Electronic Deadbolt Defends Against Distraction Burglaries

Hi-Tech Deadbolt Uses Remote Control, Keypad or Key for Entry

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With a spate of so-called “distraction burglaries” and other break ins across Los Angeles, many residents are seeking ways to enhance their home security.  Simplicikey, a new hi-tech deadbolt that uses a remote control keyfob or a keypad code for entry, offers a solution.

In the case of distraction burglaries, where a tag-team of home robbers pose as inspectors or repairmen in order to lure a homeowner outside while an accomplice enters and robs the unlocked home, the Simplicikey offers a fool-proof answer.  Rather than leave the door unlocked because it is too inconvenient or awkward to go inside to retrieve keys, a homeowner can easily lock the door using the key pad, then step outside, leaving the home secure.

Besides added security, the remote control access option offers additional convenience features, such as unlocking of the deadbolt with the push of a button.  For parents of young children who are often carrying babes in arms, car seats, a diaper bag and other accoutrement, the Simplicikey remote control deadbolt makes for easy entry without having to rearrange or set down a child or baggage in order to insert a key.  Of course you will still have to wrangle a hand free to turn the knob, or send an older child ahead to open the door.

SimpliciKey Fob in 300 dpi rgb

For households where babysitters, housekeepers, handymen and other contractors need temporary access the home, the Simplicikey allows homeowners to give these workers a custom alphanumeric code to accommodate their visits.  Up to 16 codes can be programmed, and codes can be deleted when no longer needed.  Codes can similarly be used to eliminate the need to distribute spare keys to in-laws, neighbors and others who might need access to the home, such as in an emergency.  The keypad method of entry also eliminates the need to cart along keys when out for a walk or exercise.

While the lock appears from the outside to be a traditional lock, it is loaded with tech features.  The key pad is backlit so that the numbers and letters can be read in the dark, and when pressed, the buttons on the keypad sound a tone — which can be programmed to a quieter tone if desired.  When the lock is opened or closed electronically, a high-intensity blue or red LED bar at the top of the deadbolt illuminates, and the lock mechanism emits a beep to confirm the lock is engaged or unengaged.  If the door does not close properly or otherwise the lock does not fully engage, an error tone will sound.

The lockset unit is powered by four (not included) batteries concealed in a compartment on the interior casing of the lock. The encrypted keyfob has a maximum range of up to 50 feet.

The heavy-duty all-metal lockset comes in polished brass, satin nickel and aged bronze finishes to match and complement existing door hardware.

Installation is easy and can be done with just a screw driver, if Simplicity is replacing a standard deadbolt.  If your old deadbolt hole is an odd size of less than a 2” round circle, you may need a handyman or locksmith to drill out the correct size hole.  The set comes with the option of a regular strike plate, or you can install the included strike box for added security.  The Simplicikey also features a failsafe keyed lock.

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The Simplicity set is priced at $199.99 to $249.99 at online and retail stores including  www.simplicikey.com, HomeDepot.com, The Home Depot stores, Costco (Satin Nickel finish only at this time), Amazon.com and SmartHome.com.   Additional keyfobs pairs are $49.99.

Home Sweet LA Home | Traffic Log | Stroller Traffic

Home Sweet LA Home | Traffic Log | Stroller Traffic.

Troutdale in Agoura: There’s Fish in Them There Hills

1 entranceFishing near LA?  That’s what friends asked when we suggested we take our boys angling one afternoon.  Yes indeed, there’s fish in them there hills.  In Agoura, just an hour from the city, in two trout-stocked ponds on little compound known as Troutdale.  The best thing about Troutdale is that kids are just about guaranteed to catch a fish.

Hook, Line and Corn

The second best thing about Troutdale is that you don’t need any gear, and you don’t need any fishing experience.  For a fee of $7 per person, you get a bamboo fishing pole tacked with fishing line, a pinch weigh and a hook; a couple ounces of corn kernel bait; and a bucket.  You cast your line into the water, and with a bit of time and patience, you should get some nibbles and hopefully a fish, or two, or more.

Don’t worry, if you are squeamish once you snag a fish, Troutdale’s helping hands assist in getting your fish off your line and into your bucket.  The fish are all big enough to keep – and in fact there is a strict “no catch-and-release” policy.  You pay for each fish you catch based on size, from $6 for a 10-inch trout, to $11 for 15 inches and larger.  Cleaning is an additional buck and a half per fish.  The current record catch is 37 trout in a day, and the biggest fish a 28-inch whopper that must have been the storied “one that got away” for years.

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Fish Early and Often

Weekends are busiest at Troutdale, where an average 110 to 220 visitors come to fish per day, though on a chilly winter morning our fishing party was among only a handful of other fisherfolk.   Every two weeks the two 25’ by 20’ ponds, festooned with two floating fountains for atmosphere and aeration, are replenished with up to 1,500 fish from a farm in Napa Valley, so the fishing is always bountiful.

Generations of families have come to Troutdale for more than 67 years to fish and enjoy the rustic grounds, decorated with life-size woodcarvings of bears and forest creatures, log benches and picnic tables.  For private parties, there’s also a thatch-style dining area with tables.  Everything is kept simple at Troutdale, down to the main office, consisting of a simple shack, where a limited selection of fishing rods, nightcrawler worm bait and refreshments and are for sale.

Troutdale’s facilities include two ponds with seating all around, picnic tables and woodcarvings of forest animals.  A large straw hut for parties is also available.

Troutdale’s facilities include two ponds with seating all around, picnic tables and woodcarvings of forest animals. A large straw hut for parties is also available.

Fish Local

Most visitors come from the local area — Ventura, Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, though some drive from distances as far away as San Diego to fish at Troutdale.  The majority of visitors are families with children, though all ages of kids, teens and men and women frequent Troutdale, such as one elderly grandfather who has been a regular for more than 60 years.

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Fisherman Aram Shirikchyan acquired the site seven years ago and now operates Troutdale with his family.  He fishes at Troutdale with his own children and delights in seeing other families enjoy the sport together.  His biggest challenge:  stocking the pond just right so that visitors can stretch out their day of fishing and not catch a day’s worth of fish in five minutes.

What to bring:  You don’t need any special equipment, unless you want to bring it, but some other considerations include a seat cushion (and you thought that sit-upon you made in Brownies would never come in handy!), hand-sani and paper towels for fishy hands, and warm clothes if you are visiting during winter months, or even during summer time.  The fish bite most when the sun starts to go down, so layer up.  If you are having your fish cleaned, they are handed to you in a sealed plastic bag with ice, so a cooler may be helpful but is not necessary.   Outside food for picnicking is allowed; just obey the signs to keep the area clean and don’t throw anything into the water.

You never know who you be casting next to, like Adam Sandler, who enjoys bring his daughters fishing at Troutdale (pictured with one of the owners).

You never know who you be casting next to, like Adam Sandler, who enjoys bring his daughters fishing at Troutdale (pictured with one of the owners).

How to get there:  Basically you have two choices from Los Angeles:  10 W to 405 N to US 101 N to Kanan Road exit; or the PCH scenic route to Malibu Canyon Road to Las Virgenes Road to Mulholland Hwy.  We tried both routes to and from Troutdale navigated by our GPS in the sporty Mazda CX-5.  The SUV handled the curves wonderfully, but my son did not.  So add Children’s Dramamine or Psi Bands to the list above if your kids are prone to motion sickness.

How to cook ‘em:  Trout are easy to cook.  Wrap each fish in foil with lemon and butter, and season with salt and pepper.  Broil or grill them for about 7-10 minutes on each side.  Eat with care as trout has many small bones.

Troutdale is located at 2468 Troutdale Drive, Agoura, CA  91301.  Tel. 818-889-9993.  For more information, go to www.allyoucanfish.com.

Chill Out During LA’s Cold Weather and Flu Season with At-Home Activities for Kids

With a cold snap upon California (meaning temperatures below a frigid 55 degrees here in Los Angeles), and a flu season that threatens to be the worst ever, parents are seeking stay-at-home indoor diversions to keep their stir crazy kids busy.  Here are a few activities and ideas to beat the boredom and make the time fly.
Block and Tackle
Get interactive with kids without the electronics with Tabletop Building Blocks ($54.99) from http://www.funandfunction.com.  The 87-piece starter set contains 16 different shapes to build unique arches and shapes from Baroque, Roman and Gothic architecture to inspire young builders to create classic beauty inspired by history.  Ages 3 and up.
building blocks
Tumble Time
Keep kids from bouncing off the walls with the Handstand Homework Mat ($149) from http://www.TumblTrak.com.  Using clips that secure this unique mat to a door, budding gymnasts can master handstands with ease.  On the floor the mat features a carpeted white strip for “beam” practice, and the mat reverses into a cartwheel mat with painted-on hand and feet guides.
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Really Puzzling
Get your puzzle on, and get digi wit it. The latest 1,000-piece Augmented Reality Puzzles ($19.99) from http://www.ravensburger.com combine traditional 2D puzzle play with a free downloadable app that uses the camera function of an iPhone or iPad to animate the scene and create a 3D experience complete with audio sound effects.  Ages 10 and up.
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