3 Architectural Masterpieces in Pasadena

Pasadena is the architectural gem of Southern California, with 16 historical districts packed into 23 square miles. Discover a variety of homes on the National Registry of Historic places, and stunning examples of various architectural styles such as Mediterranean, Victorian and the neighborhood’s ubiquitous Craftsman inspired homes. Pasadena offers a rare concentration of landmark homes and buildings – many of which are open for sale. This is just a sample of the incredible homes built by renowned architects you can find in this corner of Los Angeles.

Gated 3 Acre Estate – $7,600,000

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This French Chateau-inspired estate was built in 1930 by famed architects Marston & Maubury (who also designed the St. Andrews Catholic Church in Old Town Pasadena). The home has 8 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms, including a billiard room, library and features imported Italian marble, rich woods, ornate plaster details and crystal chandeliers. The home was the location for Prohibition-era parties and Christmas soirees with “thousands” of film industry guests. Host your own events on the 2.5 acre grounds with vast lawns, flagstone terraces, spacious gardens and a stone BBQ house. 

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Arts & Crafts Era Craftsman – $5,499,000

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Built in 1919, The Clifford Barnes Estate, also known as Oak Ridge, was built by esteemed architect Elmer Grey, who also designed the Beverly Hills Hotel and Pasadena Playhouse. Grey was prominent during the Arts & Crafts era, well demonstrated in this Craftsman style house, bringing modernity to the neighboring Victorian homes. The home has 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, plus an art studio, wine cellar, five fireplaces, lap pool, and wood-paneled walls throughout.  Occupying a 1.64-acre lot, the well-landscaped space has views of the surrounding forest. 

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Authentic Hacienda – $4,900,000

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Upon entering the gates to this Hacienda style home built in 1932, you are transported to a place of serenity and aesthetic rewards and one of the most striking examples of Wallace Neff’s Spanish Colonial Revival style. Neff is regarded for establishing the Southern California’s distinct architectural style referred to as “California” style.  With 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms, there is also a media room, wine cellar, gym room and guest house by the pool with a bath and kitchenette. This home is excellent for family living as well as entertaining.

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Purchase a slice of Southern California history and discover these homes and other architectural gems in Pasadena. Each has a story just waiting to be uncovered by your family.

Where To Buy Your Country Home

Life in Los Angeles can be hectic. With the constant traffic and busy lifestyle, finding time to relax can be tough. Take a little time off with a country home just outside of LA. Southern California is full of beautiful areas perfect for spending the weekend away. Consider buying a house in Ojai, Big Bear, or Marina Del Rey for beautiful scenery and a great place to relax.

Ojai – Distance – 80 miles, 1:45 drive drive from Los Angeles

Ojai is a calm town nestled in the mountains, perfect for a quiet weekend away. Hit the trail for some hiking and biking, climbing to Meditation Mount for a sunset view that can’t be beat. Enjoy local produce at the Ojai Certified Farmer’s Market on Sundays, then taste the bounty of Ojai at one of the many fine dining options. This town is known for being a spa oasis with a range of experiences for any budget. The luxury Spa Ojai has been named one of the best spas in the country with their signature mud treatment, the Kuyam. Play golf, drink wine, or tour an olive oil ranch. Ojai is the perfect place to get away from LA and just breathe.

Country_home1Mediterranean Mansion $2,150,000 – 5 beds, 6 baths View More Details

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Estate on 40 Acres $5,890,000 – 3 beds, 4 baths View More Details

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Tudor Style Family Home $2,275,000 5 beds, 5 baths View More Details

Big Bear – Distance – 100 Miles, 2.5 hour drive from Los Angeles

Big Bear offers recreation options for everyone all year round. Ski, snowboard, and tube down the mountain in the winter, or cozy up by the fire with a good book. In the summer, the lake warms up for swimming, waterskiing, fishing, boating and more, plus trails abound for hiking and biking. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for stunning wildlife – including the namesake bear! And if you crave a little civilization, Big Bear Village offers shopping, dining, and entertainment during every season. Get your adrenaline fix, bond with family, or just slow down and unwind in Big Bear. Enjoy your weekend away surrounded by trees in your cabin. 

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Full Log Lake Front Home $2,295,000 – 5 beds, 5 baths View More Details

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Fully Furnished Stone Lake Front Home $3,885,000 – 5 beds, 5 baths View More Details

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Perched Log Cabin $2,250,000 – 7 beds, 7 baths View More Details

Marina Del Rey – Distance – 20 Miles (From DTLA), 30 min drive

You don’t have to go far to get away from it all! Marina Del Rey is a great location for a vacation home – especially those who don’t want to commit to a long drive every weekend. Find peace as you listen to the waves crashing from your Marina Del Rey beach home. Head to the beach for swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, boating, boogie boarding, and relaxing. Mother’s Beach is one of the best family beaches, with it’s gentle surf and beautiful sand. Keep an eye out for dolphins and whales, who cruise through the Southern California coast every season. Grab a bite or do some shopping at Fisherman’s Village, then watch the boats come into the harbor. Nothing is more rejuvenating than the salty sea air.

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Beach Front Modern Home $8,495,000 – 6 beds, 5 baths View More Details

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Quiet Contemporary Mediterranean $3,595,000 – 4 beds, 6 baths View More Details

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Canal-Side Mediterranean Home $3,400,000 – 4 beds, 4 baths View More Details

Of course there are lots of great locations close to Los Angeles for a country home. Please share with me where your top location would be.

Home Is Where Your Dog Is

Living with man’s best friend doesn’t have to clash with your sense of style. Check out these tips to live happily ever after with your pooch.

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Special Spaces: Dogs like their own space almost as much as teenagers do! Dogs are naturally den animals and love to have their own space to rest. If you aren’t crazy about the crate choices at your local pet shop consider finding a space for your dog beneath a staircase or under a window seat. Consider building or custom ordering a crate to match your room’s colors and personal style.

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Create a Pet-Friendly Entryway:  Stop pet grime at the door! Start by choosing flooring and paint options that are easy to wipe clean. Install wall hooks to keep leashes organized and off the floor. Consider including a cabinet or shelving to store other pet supplies such as treats, toys, spare collars, etc. Keep an old towel handy for wiping off dirty paws before your dog has a chance to track dirt throughout your house.

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Room with a View: Chances are your pet spends most of their time indoors and will appreciate the entertainment associated with having a large window to see outside. Place a comfy bed below or alongside a window for your pet to enjoy. Make sure all windows are properly latched and screens are installed to prevent accidental escapes!

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Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Dogs are people too! Okay, not quite, but they do appreciate a comfortable bed. It’s totally worth the splurge to get not only a comfy spot for your pet to lay his head but for something that you love too. Take your time to find the perfect match to your décor. Bonus points if it’s washable!

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Pet Friendly Furnishings: If you can’t stand the sight of plastic dog bowls in your beautiful kitchen consider furniture-style designs for your pet. You can find everything from dog-feeding stations to toy chests and canopy beds for your pampered pooch.

Should You Go Solar?

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Solar power is one of those things that rattles around in the back of our minds as a good idea but never makes it to the top of the priority list. I want to help you understand how the solar program works and the financial and environmental reasons people go solar. Here are 7 questions that you might ask as a homeowner.

Is solar right for every homeowner?

You need some square footage to put the solar panels on. Either a roof or a backyard or the roof a really nice neighbor. You need to consider if it is financially beneficial for you to install. You could save up to $200 per month on energy costs but maybe you will only save $20 a month. This depends on a lot of factors. The best way to find out is to schedule an appointment with a company for a solar consultation. It’s easy and free. They come to the house and give you a breakdown of how much you spend on electricity now, how much you will save with solar based on your particular house.

How much will it cost me?

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A solar power system costs $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the size of the system needed to cover your energy needs. This is after the federal tax credit. The government will pay for 30% of the value of solar projects as a tax credit. This tax credit can be claimed on installations only until 2019. The solar investment will save you $100 to $200 monthly on average. So you should recoup your investment in 5 to 10 years.

A solar lease is another option that requires little or no money upfront. You pay the solar company a monthly fee for the power the panels generate. You’ll will save 10% to 20% on electric costs.

You can get a solar loan which means no cash upfront and sometimes it comes with a maintenance contract. Interest rates can range from 3% to 6.5% for 10 to 20 year loans. After factoring in loan payments, you’ll cut your electric bill by 40% to 60%, about $40 to $120 a month, that number assumes you put the tax credit toward your loan. Of course the best benefit to the loan option over the lease option is once it is all paid off you will save even more on your electricity bill.

You can try to make your own. This option is very expensive and time consuming and not recommended. But if you do try, make a video and send it to me.

What if I move?

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Click here for Berkeley University Study

Statistics show that solar installs increase the value of homes and reduce the time on market. In 2014, a survey was done of home buyers and sellers who had participated in a transfer of a solar lease. About 70% of both buyers and sellers said they thought solar panels added to the overall appeal of the home. As long as your solar system is still in good condition, then the solar should make it easier and more profitable to sell the house. This is another good reason to make sure a maintenance plan is included in any purchase or finance option that you choose.

If you lease your system, you have two options; your buyer can take over your lease, or you can buy out your lease. You should discuss this with a real estate agent when you are considering selling to find out the most profitable option You can actually use the options as negotiation terms with the buyer

What company should I buy from?

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As with any major home improvement project, you should get bids from multiple installers and compare the results. The solar company should give you an estimate of how much power that system is going to produce based on annual statistics of: the weather in your region, the angle of your roof, and its ordinal orientation. Those factors will determine the size of the system and how much electricity, on average, it will produce every year.

You can compare solar companies here – Energysage.com

What if it damages my house or it breaks?

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You can buy a maintenance policy with your solar panels. Make sure to read the policy carefully and understand what you get and don’t get. Will they come out and clean the panels on a regular basis? Panels can be obscured by dust and dirt and this will lower their power absorption capacity. Will the policy cover roof damage? If not then you need to check with your homeowners insurance policy and see how they will cover any roof damage that may occur while the solar panels are attached to the roof. Solar panels typically have a life span of 25 years.

Also, get a roofer to come out and check the viability of your roof. Have any repairs done before the solar install. It will save you a world of trouble to do this before install as opposed to after install. Call me if you need a good roofer recommendation.

Is it the right time to buy solar panels?

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The Tesla Powerwall is a battery that stores solar energy in your garage

One in 100 houses have solar says David Feldman, senior financial analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, that’s 46 times as many as a decade ago. Some of that fast growth is due to a federal tax credit that is worth 30% of installation costs. This tax credit is at it’s highest now and is scheduled to drop to 10% in 2020. Right now it is a prime time for solar. Costs have dropped significantly, systems are in place for you to sell energy back to the power company. Battery tech will come out later this year which will allow you to use solar power at night or charge an electric vehicle. Connected appliances like thermostats and hot water heaters can work in concert, woven together by intelligent software to optimize when a home consumes, stores, and conserves energy. It’s an exciting time for smart home tech.

How am I helping the environment with solar?

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According to the EPA, the average household emits approximately 20 metric tons of carbon pollution each year. By installing a solar power system, a typical two-person household eliminates between 3 and 4 tons of carbon annually. This means that you are helping to slow down global warming.

On Strengths and Success

Hello all. I have some good news to share with you. I have been chosen as a 5 Star Agent by Los Angeles Magazine. They choose their 5 Star Agents largely based on client reviews which is why I value the title. I get to work with great people and it makes my job fun.

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The secret to my success is that I do whatever it takes for my client. Last week I stood in line at 4 in the morning in front of an estate sale to get the table my client wanted. That same week I also waited at a client’s home at 9 at night for the electric company to come. Sometimes I feel like an extra spouse on call. Most of my clients are friends or referrals from friends which makes it easy to go out of my way for them. It is something I take pride in, every single sale I go above and beyond for my clients.

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I have picked up a passion for interior design through my years in real estate and it has blossomed into a substantial asset for my clients. I discovered that I have a talent for seeing the potential in a home rather than what is in plain view. I was doing a walk through with one of my clients looking to buy. I liked this particular home for them. I mentioned that they could open up the whole back wall facing the backyard by taking out the small windows and turn it into giant sliding glass doors. They ended up taking it and doing just that. It was that detail that took the home from good to exceptional. They paid the good price and improved in into the exceptional home.

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Let me put it into perspective for you. There are great homes in great locations that will sit on the market for 180 days and take multiple price reductions all because of a small ugly kitchen. An exceptional kitchen remodel will cost $40,000. If the home gets price reduced by $50,000 then it is worth it to buy the home with the ugly kitchen and remodel. That way you will get the kitchen of your dreams since you will design it and you are in a great position to negotiate the price down even lower. I have a knack for this kind of a deal. I see things other agents do not. Which means my clients get more of what they want.

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I just bought Manhattan Beach major fixer. I have so many plans to make it perfect for my family.  I am about to meet the tile lady right now. For my clients I am already good at designing interiors like “pull out that wall, or put this window here” but I have a hard time with exteriors. With my own home project I will train my eye for exterior improvements as well.

 

Here is my advice if you are thinking of buying or selling:

 

  •  If you are considering purchasing a home to remodel then I suggest making changes in phases over time. It helps to get in and live in it before you remodel.

 

  • Sellers need to be emotionally ready to sell. Either you are all in or all out.

 

  • I find that buyers and sellers who trust me and listen to my advice end up being much more successful.
I want to thank all of you who have worked with me in the past. I am excited about all the good things to come and I am lucky I get to help so many people that I like and respect.

Add These Plants To Your Water-Wise Garden

The planters around town are full of succulents and “drought shaming” is an unfortunate fad between neighbors throughout Southern California. The signs of change are all around us and I want to help. Spring will be here in March so here are my ideas on how to make your home/garden water-wise and drought tolerant.

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California is a Mediterranean climate type and one of my favorite Mediterranean trees is the fig tree. It has big beautiful leaves and does remarkably well indoors as well as outdoors. This could be a great option to start with in an apartment or a great addition to your yard.

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Just don’t get this fig tree. This is a strangler fig. It is actually eating another tree! Some fig trees will destroy your yard once they mature. Do your homework. I recommend a dwarf tree so that it doesn’t grow too large. Also, if you plan on eating the figs then I recommend trying the fruit from the tree you want to buy first. Some figs are sweet and delicious and some are gross. You only need to water a fig tree once every 3 weeks. Low maintenance and delicious.

If you have a lawn you need need need to switch over to one of these alternatives. First, do you like your lawn? If the answer is no, tear it out and put something you do like instead. If the answer is yes then consider these “grass upgrades”.

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Carex Pansa looks and feels identical to a lawn but you will water it 70% less than your current lawn and you only need to mow it once a month. The grass in this image has been left unmowed for a more natural look.

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Yarrow can be grown as a running ground cover that can handle light foot traffic. It only needs to be mowed a few times a year. Yarrow may not flower if it has been cut though. If you let yarrow grow without mowing then it will reach about 3-feet high, producing flowers all through the summer.

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Succulents are a great addition to your home or garden. You can make a whole garden using only succulents or just have one lone succulent in your home. They are incredibly low maintenance you can go out of town for a month and it will still be alive when you get back.

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Sencio is a good filler succulent. They spread out low to the ground and have a pleasing blue grey green color.

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Echeveria is the centerpiece succulent. Surround it in a sea of sencio or gravel or other low spreading succulents to make it stand out. It has a large rose like structure with a red and purple hue.

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Firesticks (Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’) add a unique form to your garden. You can use them alongside other succulents to create an ocean garden look.

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Here is a great succulent garden design with an ocean like motif. Notice the firesticks in the back as well as the echeveria. They added some lava rocks and driftwood to complete the look.

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Grape vines are very romantic and very Californian. Grapes need very little water and have great form. The varietal Flame Seedless grapes have a bright red fruit that is sweet and delicious. You can plant multiple varietals so that you have grapes 9 months out of the year.

Here is some inspiration to help you design your dream garden. These designers are also available for hire if you want to have something fantastic without all of the technical work.

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Bernard Trainor – California Natural

 

 

Scott Shrader – Mediterranean Villa

Have fun & Send me pics of your creations!

The Rams are back! What does this mean for our city?

There has been a football drought in Los Angeles for far too long. Teams have tempted us with promises over the years with no walk to back up the talk. But of course, when the rain finally comes, it pours. A couple months ago we were going to have 3 football teams come to LA at once! But after all the dust has settled we finally have our team. The prodigal sons return home. Welcome back Los Angeles Rams!

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The stakes are big, the money is bigger. The freeways are going explode. It may be time to invest in that hyperloop transport system or that donkey ride business because the freeways are going to be more clogged than the arteries of a championship hotdog eater and we need anything we can get. But jokes aside what I want to explore is the actual financial impact on the city.

So where is the stadium going to be? Inglewood, just a short bike ride East of LAX Airport. The stadium will be under construction until it’s completion in 2019. The Crenshaw rail line will open the same year 1 mile away from the stadium.

Chris Meany, a development manager with Hollywood Park Land the owner of the land the stadium will be built on, said the project will conservatively generate “tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue” for the city. That will come from a ticket tax, sales-tax revenue from the project’s retail operations, property taxes and a hotel occupancy tax.

“The entire project will create a total of 40,000 jobs counting construction and ongoing operations,” he said. “It will cost $1.86 billion to build the stadium. But the whole project is closer to $3 billion.”

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The plan not only includes the stadium but also an enormous mixed-use development that will include housing, office space, retail, a hotel, a 6,000 seat performing arts theatre and a lake altogether covering approximately 300 acres.

An economic impact evaluation completed by the city last year estimated that the Rams’ move would help generate over a billion dollars a year for the local economy.

Raphael Bostic, interim director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, said the project could well boost surrounding property values, both commercial and residential.

“I think there is potential for that,” he said. “But it really depends on how the project performs. If it translates into a vibrant destination place, it would not only benefit the city, it would also become a regional draw like Old Pasadena.”

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Homes in close proximity to NFL stadiums tend to have higher than average home values overall, however, all stadiums built within the last 10 years have failed to raise home values.

It seems that the local big winners will be commercial real estate in the short term and in the long term: hotels, short term rentals, restaurants, and tourist spots. We could see a boost in Real Estate in the area if the new jobs created are able to translate into new homeowners.

6 Easy Ways to Transform a Room

Clear the Space

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Everything in a room should be purposefully placed and beautiful to look at. Large amounts of space are essential to beauty. “Always ask yourself ‘Do I love it, does it enhance my life and can I live without it?’ Restraint calms the eyes and gives everything a sense of purpose.” – Amy Lau. You may be saying to yourself but what about all my important day to day items that I need? I can’t be living in a museum. Contain it. Organize yourself with closed containers like chests, cabinets, drawers etc. Everything should have it’s place and be out of plain sight.

Find Your Cornerstone

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Once you have stripped your room down to the essentials take a quick look at what you have left. Is there one piece of furniture that you notice first or like the most? If so, that is your cornerstone. Design around this piece. Choose it’s position in the room first and fit the rest in relation to it. Find an item or two that matches the color, it could be as simple as a pillow or vase.

Rug

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Area rugs ground the space and give dimension to the room. The larger the rug the better. For a luxury look get a rug large enough to put all furniture legs on the rug. For a more casual look put only two legs on the rug. The current fashion is to layer your rugs with different patterns colors and textures. Layering can also be a way to save a bit of money on that beautiful rug you just can’t afford. Get the small version and put a natural fiber rug underneath it.

Art

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Go big. Size matters with wall art. It is better to have one large statement piece than to have six small frames on the wall. Aside from a painting you can also hang photo prints and ornate mirrors. Use your cornerstone and color scheme as reference and tie the room together with the art. You can go as expensive or inexpensive as you want. If you have a painting that is too small above your sofa, don’t center it. Offset it a few inches to the left. The negative space – called ‘ma’ – becomes part of the image” Richard Mishaan. I personally like art with a story. Art is beautiful but a story is priceless. Maybe you have a painter friend who you could ask to paint you something just perfect for the room. If you travel keep in mind what you are looking for in case you see the perfect addition to your room. If someone comments on the art then you have a story you can tell them.

Lighting

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Once you have the room setup the way you want you can assess the light in the room.  There are 3 types of lighting: general, task and accent. General is the large area light that covers the entire room. Task lighting is used for reading or lighting a conversation area. Accent lighting is used to highlight art, add light to dim areas, add dimension to the room and add atmosphere. To properly light a room you need all 3. To see what you are missing in the room turn off all light accept the general lighting. Are there dark areas of the room? Now turn on all of the lights in the room. Are there still dark areas? Which category of light do you need to use to fill it?

Flowers

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Plants and flowers bring a room to life. They are doubly impressive because it means that you continue to care for and update the room. Choose a flower color that matches your color scheme or go green. A green plant can fit into almost any room. Carnations are classic, last along time and are cheap. Succulents have great form and are very resilient. You can grow Jasmine indoors for a fragrant addition to a room. Jasmine has pretty white and pink flowers and grows on a vine. You can train the vine around windows or up a lattice on the wall. Note: Jasmine is toxic for dogs. Before you plant anything read about it to make sure it’s right for your home and lifestyle.

Have fun and send me pictures of your new creations!

5 Small Ways to Change Your Life Today for the Better

Throw out all of your old socks and buy new ones

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This is so simple and will make a huge difference in your day. The new fluffy feeling of fresh socks will comfort you the whole day. You will wonder how you got so use to all your old worn down socks. Best of all, now all of your new socks are guaranteed to match for at least a couple weeks.

Cook something delicious

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Find a recipe that you have always wanted try, go to the store buy the ingredients, go home and make it happen. The taste of a delicious meal that I make myself is unparalleled by any restaurant, it’s the taste of accomplishment. You will have fun searching for a recipe, and impress your family and friends with your new meal (bonus points if you walk to the store). Double bonus if you pick up the socks on the way to get the groceries.

Ask someone you respect out for a cup of coffee

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You would be surprised to find out who you could get a meeting with if you just ask. You know that person that is doing exactly what you wish you could be doing right now? Or the person that is 10x more skilled at playing the piano than you? Or that nice Real Estate Agent who always posts such great blog articles? That’s the person you ask to coffee. Making new friends can open up avenues that you never thought possible and it is the key to a dynamic and fun life.

Go for a FUN workout

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By fun I mean a sport, a challenging hike, or that new class you always wanted to try. Variety is the spice of life and exploring a mountain trail that leads to a waterfall is much more interesting than sitting on a spin bike and staring at yourself in the giant gym mirror. Ask a friend to join you or make a day date out of it. Doing something active together is a great bonding experience.

 Schedule “no phone time”

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This is automatic relaxation, you will feel the stress melt away. I am not kidding it’s kind of magical. You need to set your own boundaries with this one but here are some options. Try no phone past 10 pm. This will help you get to sleep better since screens are known to keep your mind active and awake and turning them off will help you wind down your evening. Also, once you set these boundaries and stick to them friends and colleagues will learn your schedule as well. The fear is always that you will miss something important or that someone will think you don’t care, however, 95% of the time, it can wait until the morning. Another option is no phones during family meals and or no phones on Sundays. A full day can be tough but I recommend trying this on a vacation and see how you feel.

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On the flip side of the “no phone time” practice is “yes phone time”. This is time when you should absolutely be on your phone and handling those little important things throughout the day so you can spend the time with loved ones later without being on your phone. These are times like riding in an Uber or anytime you are waiting for someone or something. You all know these times and 9 time out of 10 we are on our phones at these times anyway. But I challenge you to identify these times and instead of scrolling through your social media for entertainment handle your business. If you can master this time management hack you will gain an hour or so each day that you can use any way that you want.

Try them out and let me know how it goes. Oh and Happy New Year. Let’s make it great!

My 5 Favorite Holiday Spots

1) Downtown Burbanks 12 Days of Holiday Cheer

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Downtown Burbank goes all out to spread the joy. There are events going on until the 12th of December. Each one fun and worth catching. Don’t miss Sunday the 11th when the Metrolink Holiday Toy Express rolls in to downtown. Then on the 12th there is a free screening of the movie Elf behind City Hall.  More details here.

2) The Rink in Downtown Burbank

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Ice skating in the California sun! Go on a fun date or take the family. All ages are welcome and there are skate aids for the beginners so really everyone can go. This rink only appears in the winter and it is outdoors which makes in more fun in my opinion. It’s near City Hall at the corner of N 3rd Street and E Orange Grove. More details here.

3) Shopping in Old Town Pasadena

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Old Pas knows how to create a great Holiday ambiance. There are the classic decorations, santa’s helpers roaming around, carolers, puppet shows, specialty shops giving out cider and hot cocoa. It’s a warm friendly place. There are mostly artisanal mom and pop shops so you will find unique gifts that will be helping out the community with your purchase more than you would at a big box store. There are a lot of great events going on so check this calendar and plan your shopping to the event.

4) Mexican Hot Chocolate

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It is hard to find authentic Mexican hot chocolate but when you do it’s so good. It is not as sweet as hot chocolate which makes the chocolaty taste very strong and usually high grade South American chocolate is used. It’s frothier than hot chocolate and has a bit of cinnamon and chile in it. Get it at La Monarca Bakery in South Pasadena, they make it perfect. Pair it with an authentic Mexican pastry like a dulce de leche cake or a hojarascan – a Mexican cinnamon cookie which will bring out the cinnamon flavor in the Mexican Hot Chocolate.

5) The Giving Tree

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When you buy a Christmas tree at the NOHO FUMC Tree Lot they donate ALL of the proceeds to various charities. The tree lot is run by volunteers so your money really is going to the charities. I really like this place because we are all going to get a tree anyway so we might as well get the one that will help out the people most in need. More details here.

So now you have some classic Holiday events to keep the traditions alive and some new experiences to make this season memorable, fresh and distinctly Californian. Happy wishes and happy trails to you and yours.