A Visit to Santa Claus and HGTV HOME Showroom at Santa Monica Place

Last year I waited three hours for a visit with Santa at a mall in LA.  After about two minutes with Santa, my son was rushed out the door, and I was presented with options of print packages that were somewhere between $45 and a million bucks for an 8×10 and a sheet of wallet-sized photos.  Five years I had gone to that Santa, because I thought his decorations were most beautiful, the atmosphere was the most charming, yadda yadda ho ho ho, until I strolled into Santa Monica Place last week.


In the middle of the mall was an adorable life-size gingerbread Santa’s house.  Instead of a long line of fussy kids and aggravated parents, there was a play area with giant coloring books and a field of Christmas trees made of colored lights.


Two cheerful Santa’s helpers invited us in for photos.  Santa was jovial and took his time to hear my suddenly shy son mumble his wish list. We were given a proof of the photo on the spot and the option to buy a digital file for $9.99 so that I could make as many copies as I wanted.  As we exited, a light show – repeated hourly from 6-9pm – choreographed to holiday music flooded the plaza.

You would have thought it was Christmas!

As we wandered the mall, which is undoubtedly one of the loveliest around, the crowd was scant, which was great for us since there was no waiting anywhere for anything.  Hot cocoa at Chocolate Opulence, some sundry gifts at Bloomingdale’s, browsing at Tiffany & Co. and Swarovski – we practically had the place to ourselves.



Upstairs HGTV—the architects of the Holiday House for Santa, had taken over one of the store fronts to create a pop-up showroom, full of HGTV HOME decorating items featured on the channel.



Some of the HGTV talent were hanging out at the showroom offering decorating tips, free demonstrations and complimentary consultations by walk-in or appointment.  HGTV also created backdrops of the Santa Monica Pier and a wintery sledding scene where the kids could pose for fun pictures.


I almost forgot about the parking, which was remarkably easy in the structure adjacent to the mall.  Granted, it was a week night, but with green- and red-light system that identifies vacant spots, we found parking within minutes.

Certainly crowds will pick up at Christmas draws closer, but the layout of the mall and the outdoor open space makes the shopping experience pleasant, sans fighting the hordes of people at some of LA’s other popular malls.  But hurry, because Santa departs Christmas Eve, though the HGTV activities will operate through January 1.

Santa Monica Place is located at 395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401.  For more information go to santamonicaplace.com.


A Guide to Enjoying LA’s Indian Summer

Triple-Digit Fall Temperatures Send Angelenos Flocking to the Beach and Pool
Labor Day signals the official end of summer, but don’t stow your beach togs yet. In LA, hot weather and summer fun goes on at the beach and pool into autumn.

Who Wear’s Shorty Shorts?
Kids love splashing in the waves no matter the season. As the water gets colder, keep them toasty in a Konfidence shorty or child wetsuit. The soft, flexible 100-percent UV protection neoprene fabric will keep them warm in and out of the water. $36.99 to $59.99, http://www.konfidence-usa.com. For the stylin’ boys of endless summer, quick-drying microfiber swim trucks by Australian brand Tom and Teddy will withstand seasons of and salt and chlorine year after year with quality and smart design, like durable double stitching, two pockets, rear eyelets for air circulation and comfortable 100 percent cotton mesh lining. Boys sizes 1-12 years, $49.95. Also available in men’s sizes small through XXL, $84.95 at http://www.tomandteddy.com.



Suit Beer Float
Grab your bathing suit, best squeeze and a cold one and hop on the Pool and Beach 2Up Lounge by Sportstuff, $59.99, http://www.sportstuff.com. This stylish blow-up lounger has a molded cup holder for your fave beverage and side-by-side mesh seats with a comfy back rest, and its thick, durable 20 gauge K80 construction ensures long life. Have a party by linking up other lounges with the integrated connectors. Feeling like a little more me time? Sail solo in the Fiji Float by Airhead, $19.99, http://www.airhead.com. twoupfloatieBuilt for the pool or lake with durable vinyl and welded seams, this single-seat lounge features a mesh bottom to keep you cool and a molded drink holder, and if you get lonely, you can hook up with other floats using the side-mounted rope anchors.


Sandy Places

That pesky sand gets in the darndest places. Brush if off with SandGone, a pleasant-smelling, non-toxic dry powdery solution to removing sand that gets stuck everywhere you don’t want it to be. Apply the talc with the included soft puff and watch the sand fall off. Great to use all over after a day on the beach or on sandy feet before getting into the car. 8 oz. jar, $12.95. www.sandgone.com.


Just Plane Fun

Forget the remote controls and batteries, Sky Riders old-fashioned foam flyers by Kids Only, a division of JAKKS Pacific, Inc., take fun to new heights. Great for the beach or park, the colorful lightweight foam material makes them easy to launch, and the aerodynamic design lifts them into the sky to loop and glide. Available in 24”, 36” and 48” wingspans. Ages 3 and up. $7.99- $14.99, Toys R Us, RiteAid, and Bed Bath and Beyond.Sky-Riders-Patriot-Foam-Glider-1366051381

Cover Up

It’s true what your mom told you about getting a sunburn, no matter the season, no matter if the sun is shining. Cloudy day or bright and sunny, be safe and slather on sunscreen year-round to protect your skin. The new hypoallergenic, fragrance-free 50-SPF Coppertone Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion is perfect for any season, without a heavy coconutty smell or oily feel, and it lasts for 80 minutes and is water resistant. 6 oz., $10.00 at Kmart.

Hydrate or Dry

Refresh and hydrate yourself with HINT Premium Essence Water, a great alternative to sugary beverages and sodas that leave you thirstier.  With a “hint” of flavor, this delicious drinking water comes in Watermelon, Blackberry, Pomegranate-Tangerine, Strawberry-Kiwi, Raspberry-Lime, Mango-Grapefruit, Lime, Pear, Honeydew-Hibiscus and Cucumber.   12 pack, $16.66-$20.68, www.walmart.com.



Go Nuts, and Berries

Forget fast food and pack along fast energy food instead.  USANA all-natural energy and nutrition bars, like the taste Go Nuts ‘n’ Berries Nutrition Bar, are loaded with ingredients like peanuts, almonds, chia, flaxseeds, raisins and cranberries, without gluten, soy or dairy, to provide you with the fuel you need to power you up for swimming laps, body surfing, and all your outdoor activities. Box of 14 bars, $31.85.  http://www.usana.com.

usanna bars

Absolutely Famous Styles with Kate Hudson: Looking Good for the Holidays

Kate Hudson’s Holiday Picks at Ann Taylor Offer Styles for Every Woman on Your Gift List

We can’t all look like Kate Hudson, but we can dress like her.  Ann Taylor’s latest celebrity model looks fabulous in the iconic clothier’s collection, from festive holiday dresses and sparkling bangles to luscious body hugging velvet pants and vibrantly colorful flowy oversized sweaters.

Ann Taylor has always been a great one-stop boutique when you have an office party, a promising date, or even a job interview — and you have limited time to shop.  It’s also a smart one-stop destination for the holidays.  This season Ann Taylor is offering tons of stylish looks for you and for the fashionable women on your gift list, with plenty of gift ideas for under $150 and $50, including Kate Hudson’s gift picks of a holiday cocktail dress, snowflake earrings, arm-length gloves and splashy and warm winter scarves.

My recent shopping experience at Ann Taylor affirmed why the store has had such enduring success for so many years.  The styles are classic but always updated, and the service rivals any personal shopper service I have experienced at world-class department stores.  At the Beverly Center in Beverly Hills, my sales associate Ellen Green felt like an old friend after my approximate one hour of trying on a variety of styles.

Ellen brought me options and different sizes and kept my fitting room tidy while I pulled on one outfit after the next.  Most importantly, she gave me honest and helpful feedback.  She correctly surmised after I tried on a few varieties of sweaters that those with a cinched waste or belt were most flattering.  This had taken me years to figure out.

I ended up with a versatile ensemble of a magenta wrap around sweater, classic black slacks and a suit jacket.  Ellen rightly convinced me to go with a size smaller than I had been trying on in pants for a more elegant tailored look.  Suited up, I looked ready for business; with the jacket off, I was dressed for a dinner out.  As I twirled and checked out my new attire in the dressing room mirror, I thought I caught a glimpse of Kate Hudson, but it was just me.

It’s Easy To Be Green During “WehoGrnWknd”



City-Wide Yard Sale set for Saturday, July 14, 2012 and Sunday, July 15, 2012 Document Shredding and Electronic Waste Collection to take place on Saturday, July 14, 2012

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood is going Green again for one weekend with two very special “Green” activities to get everyone motivated to clear out their clutter, recycle some lost treasures, and pocket a little money along the way. The City’s environmentally friendly “WehoGrnWknd” (West Hollywood Green Weekend) will feature a City-Wide Yard Sale on Saturday, July 14, 2012 and Sunday, July 15, 2012.

Also during WehoGrnWknd, the City of West Hollywood will sponsor a free Document Shredding and Electronic Waste Collection on Saturday, July 14, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at West Hollywood City Hall, 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard.

“Last year’s City-Wide Yard Sale was such a great success, we are doing it again. So, clear out the clutter, make some cash, and help keep useful items out of the landfill,” said West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang. “Register today, and be a part of WehoGrnWknd,” added Mayor Prang.

For one weekend, West Hollywood is turning into a citywide estate sale and will help you promote your sale by listing the location and time on the City’s website! Cruise for bargains all over town and go green by reducing waste and keeping valuable resources out of the landfill. Whether you’re trying to clear out your attic or searching for secondhand treasures, reusing items is one of the smartest ways to reduce waste.

All participants must register for the City-Wide Yard Sale, just as you would for any other yard sale within the City of West Hollywood. Participants are required to abide by all City regulations pertaining to yard/garage sales. Pre-registration to participate will be required as limited permits will be granted.

For more information regarding WehoGrnWknd or the Document Shredding and E-Waste Collection, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Office of Environmental Services at (323) 848-6404 or visit http://www.weho.org/wehogrnwknd