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.


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.


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”.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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!

rams logo

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.”


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.”


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


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


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 2

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.


painting 2

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 1

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?



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


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


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


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


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”

no phone

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.


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

xmas train

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

ice rink

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


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


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

FUMC xmas tree lot

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.

My Experience at the Cystic Fibrosis Stair Climb

The 6th Annual Cystic Fibrosis Stair Climb has just happened in Downtown Los Angeles. It is an event that is near and dear to me as I have been a participant and had close friends with cystic fibrosis. Though it has already past, I would still like to share my thoughts about it with you.

Looks daunting doesn’t it? photo by

The stair climb is a fun and challenging climb up 54 flights of stairs to the roof of the Figueroa at Wilshire building. You can either race to the top and compete for a winning time or climb at your own pace. I start out running but I end up walking near the end. I try to challenge myself at my own pace. Once you reach the top there is a Survivors Party on the rooftop helipad with food, Champagne and entertainment. Kids are welcome as well. You can meet people with Cystic Fibrosis and learn more about their lives and struggle. Of course, the real reason we all participate is to help out in the fight against cystic fibrosis. The registration fee and the fundraised all go to help those with Cystic Fibrosis.

Will Houston is one of the reasons I started doing the run. Will is a 17 year old with Cystic Fibrosis. Will’s grandma and mom are good friends of mine. Our families all grew up together.

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that causes constant lung infections and limits the ability to breathe. There is always the looming threat of respiratory failure that haunts the family and the doctors that care for them. Will has lived with this problem all his life. Despite the disease he was on his school’s football team and manages to be very active. Will Houston, every morning before school and before going to bed is on a breathing machine, yet, I always see him smiling. He is an inspiration to me.

CF run family picSo, when I run up those steps and my breathing gets heavy and my lungs start to hurt. I try to
imagine what it is like for Will everyday. It takes me 13 minutes to complete the climb, it will take him a lifetime. I can never truly know what his struggle is but this is one way I can try.

If you are interested in learning more about the effort to help you can check out