Childcare for the 21st Century

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Brella Founders Melanie Wolff and Darien Williams

Everything is available on-demand these days. So why should childcare be any different? That’s the concept behind Brella, a new childcare model launched in Playa Vista in November.

Say you and your friend are new mothers strolling with your babies down Runway. You’re both struggling with the huge, life-altering changes that come with this new stage of life. You’re desperate to connect and chat about your issues, and maybe leave with a few ideas and solutions. But your babies are crying. They need to be held, fed and changed. And all you want to do is stop, sit, breathe and hear your friend’s comforting voice.

That’s the beauty of Brella. Pop into the brightly colored open space at Runway (or better yet, check online on the app) to see if there’s room for two … toddlers. Leave your babies with qualified, credentialed care and score the quiet, uninterrupted time you need. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Star Chefs Honor the Legacy of Chef Joe Miller by Preparing a Meal Like No Other

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Chef Raphael Lunetta, Jill Davie, Kevin Meehan (left); The Mar Vista chef Gulianna Sarto (right) 

Notable chefs, farmers market vendors, family and friends gathered on Dec. 2 at Venice Boulevard destination restaurant The Mar Vista to remember Chef Joe Miller, best known as the founder of Joe’s Restaurant on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

There had been other memorials before — Miller, who was only 60, died in late October from complications of cardiac arrest — but this was a celebration of his life … with food. The event centered around dinner, which longtime Joe’s Restaurant fan Gail Rogers said was the best food she’s ever eaten — “and the wine was flowing.”

Michelin-starred Joe’s Restaurant was open for 24 years before closing in 2016. My entire family loved Joe’s, and most of them attended the dinner. I, too, have fond memories of the nights we celebrated family occasions at Joe’s. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Vote16CulverCity Builds Support TO Lower the Voting Age in City Elections

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Sarah Hager (left), Piper Samuels
and Rebecca Rottenberg

An organized group of 16- and 17-year-olds wants the right to vote in local elections. That’s the push behind the national campaign Vote16USA, which aims to raise awareness for this issue around the country.

Wait — don’t teens get in more car accidents? Aren’t they apathetic? These are the kinds of questions that Vote16CulverCity organizers Piper Samuels, Rebecca Rottenberg and Sarah Hager hear all the time, and a lot of the effort that goes into their campaign is to refute negative stereotypes about teens.

The three Culver City High School students are at the Veterans Memorial Building on a Wednesday night in mid-August to ask the Culver City Democratic Club for an endorsement. They hope to build support for a proposed 2020 city ballot measure that would ask Culver City voters to lower the voting age to 16 for future city council elections.

And they’re making a very good case to this crowd of more than 60 club members, each of whom have chosen to commit at least two hours on a weeknight to staying engaged in local politics. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Sisters in Step

twins“You guys are the cutest things on planet Earth,” gushed “So You Think You Can Dance” judge Vanessa Hudgens. “My heart is melting for you guys.”

“You guys are adorable,” added judge Mary Murphy. “I wish I could be your sister.”

For 25-year-old twins Gratsiela (Gracie) and Desislava (Desi) Sandeva of Dobrich, Bulgaria, being on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 15 was a dream come true — from the day they applied for the hit show online to the moment they stepped on the stage to audition in front of a live audience and TV cameras in New York City.

“Our life has changed for sure — for good, of course,” says Gracie. “I think we are the same Desi and Gracie from before, we are just more confident in ourselves. There was also a few times that little kids on the streets recognized us from the show.”

Although they didn’t make the cut, Gracie and Desi are not giving up their dreams just yet. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

The Historic Landmark Next Door

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Photo Credit: Maria Martin

Where did the phrase “pulling out all the stops” come from?

From an 1879 pump organ like the one inside the Centinela Adobe, Historical Society of the Centinela Valley President Diane Sambrana will tell you on a tour of the house, located just west of the 405 Freeway between Florence Avenue and La Tijera Boulevard. “Each one of its knobs gives you a different sound,” she explains, “and when they’re all out, you have a grand finale.”

This and hundreds of other interesting historical facts about Westchester, Playa del Rey, Inglewood and beyond flow from Sambrana, who lives in Inglewood next to the house where she was born.

The Centinela Adobe, where you’ll see and hear about the many inhabitants of this three-room homestead and how they shaped local history, is open for free tours from 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays and by appointment. So are the adjacent Haskell Heritage Center and Freeman Land Office, where books, photographs and artifacts illustrate the story of the Centinela Valley. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Fall Arts Preview 2019: Dance

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Photo courtesy of Sankai Juku

SOMAFest @ Highways Performance Space
Sept. 1

Expect feelings to be flowing at this celebration of movement that focuses on internal experience over external appearance. It’s a two-hour showcase that doubles as emotional catharsis. Dance as therapy. Dance as savior. Dance as uplifter, with film, voice, live music and choreography more heartfelt than heavy on technique. All the emotional goodness of dance is in there.
1651 18th St., Santa Monica. $20-$25. (310) 453-1755; highwaysperformance.org

Invertigo Dance Theatre @ The Broad Stage
Sept. 13-14

Not many dance companies would tackle the life of math genius Alan Turing, who helped break Nazi coded messages during WWII. But Laura Karlin— Invertigo Dance Theatre’s artistic director — is bold and adventurous with choreography and content (think bobbing for apples but from another dancer’s mouth). Her company’s “Formulae & Fairy Tales” highlights more than beautiful bodies bounding across the stage — it makes a point: Turing was persecuted and, ultimately, died for being gay.
1310 11th St., Santa Monica. $49-$79. (310) 434-3200; thebroadstage.org

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Paradise Found

IMG_5912-copy“I paint almost every day,” says Rich Untermann, owner of the Spanish Garden Inn in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. “When I like a painting, I frame it, and hang it someplace in the hotel. I shift them around until they feel comfortable—it is in a constant shuffle.”

Over the years, Untermann’s paintings have filled up most of the hangable places in the hotel’s public spaces and 24 rooms. The self-taught painter is also an architect and, 17 years ago, he designed the hotel with the help of his wife, an interior designer.

The couple moved to Santa Barbara from Seattle in 1995. On their list of requirements for their chosen relocation was an ocean and a university. “My wife and I wanted to buy property downtown—an urban hotel, and historic, like Santa Barbara,” says Untermann.

Their lushly landscaped Spanish-style boutique hotel is located, appropriately, on Garden Street. …

Read the full article at Artillery Magazine.

Vino 101

wineBrice Baillie was born in a small town (pop. 1,000) surrounded by vineyards in the region of Champagne, France. He remembers drinking at an early age and always seeing a bottle of champagne in his family’s fridge—ready to pop whenever guests arrived.

After his town’s harvest each year, all the locals would grab the leftover grapes, and his dad would make moonshine alcohol in the wine cellar. While out walking, you could expect to run into someone with a champagne bottle in a backpack, ready to share. Baillie’s first job was actually working the harvest in Beaujolais and Burgundy.

It’s no surprise then, that when Baillie relocated to Los Angeles and married an American woman, all of their friends would look to the “French guy” to order wine at dinner.

“Over time, I realized Americans are intimidated and confused about wine,” says Baillie. “And this should not be the case.” …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Scream Flavor, Whisper Health

saladI’m known for my big flavors!” says chef Alejandra Schrader, whose light-up-the-room smile is equally as grand. “My recipes are mouthwatering, colorful and easy to make.”

These days, the Playa Vista resident is delightfully busy in the kitchen. But if you had told Schrader 10 years ago that she’d be pursuing a career as a chef, entrepreneur and activist, she wouldn’t have believed it.

Fifteen years ago, Schrader was morbidly obese and already experiencing health issues in her twenties.

“My struggle with weight issues has been an ongoing battle, and I’m very open about it, hoping to relate to others out there struggling as well,” says Schrader.

“About a year ago I decided to shift to a plant-based pescatarian diet for the sake of my health and the environment,” she says. “What we buy and how we eat can help alleviate climate change, spur biodiversity and contribute to a better food system for all.” …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Kings of the Road

food-2One of the unique things about being a foodie in Los Angeles is that you can find some of the city’s best food in otherwise inconspicuous mini-malls.

Sure, the view from the window is a parking lot, but on the upside there’s usually available parking, the food tends to be more affordable, and the general lack of pretension keeps the restaurant’s ambitions focused squarely on what you’re about to eat.

So let’s drop the fanfare and get right to it — five mini-mall gems that should be on your culinary radar.

Tomi Sushi

Most people know about Ronnie’s Diner, the popular breakfast spot in Del Rey tucked just off Culver Boulevard near Ballona Creek. Asaya Japanese restaurant, across the parking lot, was another local favorite for 30 years. A few months ago, a new sign went up: Tomi Sushi. The community mourned Asaya’s loss on Yelp. But, thankfully, Tomi Sushi kept the same warm staff and is serving up fresh, delicious fish along with other tasty hot kitchen entrees, including bulgogi and udon. My husband and I spontaneously popped in on Valentine’s Day. Nothing says “I love you” like their signature yellowtail jalapeno sashimi special with cilantro and yuzu ponzu sauce. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.