You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2010.

It’s about time for me to go away for a few days an escape the traffic and work that comes with living in Los Angeles. Palm Springs seems to be calling since it is a relatively easy 2 hour drive. The Spring Breakers and Snowbirds (i.e., people from colder climes like WA, OR & Canada) are gone, the rates are coming down, and the temperatures are still moderate, so this is the perfect time to take a few days to unwind.

The Ace Hotel combines the retro look with modern chic at good prices. For Sunday through Monday reservations from May 1- September 30, you can get 50% off each night if you book two nights. This deal is not applicable during the major holidays in this period and it is hard to find online, so call them at 760-325-9900 and ask for the “Cool Pool” rate which works out to be about $99 a night after the discount. The only thing I don’t like about this place is they do have a $20 resort fee that allows you free internet, spa, and pool access, but as more resorts are adding on this fee (like baggage fees) it seems that nickeling and dimeing at resorts is now here to stay. Figure that you are still saving $80 a night off the regular room rates, so it still works out to a good deal even after adding on the nickels and dimes.

Wanna go out to eat today? Go to one of the restaurants participating in the Dine Out For Life benefit and 25% or more of your check will go towards Project Angel Food which helps deliver and serve food to people affected by HIV/Aids, cancer, and other life threatening diseases.

The restaurant choices range from the vegetarian like Buddha’s Belly and vegan M Cafe, to the steak and lobster classic, The Palm, with choices in between like the upscale Asian Mr. Chow and upscale French Little Next Door, to the casual BLD, and kitschy Hamburger Mary’s. Even if you don’t want to eat, go to the Abbey and drink in some man eye candy along with your alcohol, after all it’s for a good cause 😉

Wednesday is wine and dine time at Upstairs 2.

Actually every Wednesday through Saturday can be wine and dine time at this wine centered restaurant above the Wine House. The four course $55 menu on Wednesdays comes with four wine pairings and a brief discussion, so this makes wining and dining a bit different than other days when you must put together your own combination of tastes to suit your palate because it’s always more fun when a wine expert and chef do the work for you.

Make your reservations by calling 310-231-0316 (you may make reservations on other days online through Open Table) and saying you want to attend the “Wine & Dine Wednesday” before this event ends in May. Southern France, Piedmont, and Syrah are all being featured before the end of next month, so pick up the phone (you know that thing you use to Twitter and Text) and make a reservation for dinner next Wednesday by going Upstairs 2 a great menu.

You still have some time to reserve at Vinoteque on Melrose for their Sip & Swirl event tonight which starts at 7pm (there is one at 9pm also). You must reserve because they cap the event at 40 people so that they can serve the three courses that compliment the three wines being presented. The usual cost is $20.10, but tonight’s event is only $10 and tonight’s wine region is Sicily. If you can’t attend tonight, they will be continuing the tasting series every Tuesday through May 25, so reserve for the wine region/varietal that you would like to taste.

If you want to make an entire evening out of the event, book the full three course dinner package for $50 (or $40 for Group On members). The full dinner includes an amuse bouche, wild arugula salad with toasted pine nuts, parmesan, and candied lemon slices. Diners can choose Salmon, served with a Sunchoke purée, spinach, bing cherry, or a Roasted Chicken, served with caramelized brussel sprouts, brown butter whipped potatoes, chicken jus, or Black Angus Skirt Steak, served with fries, and steak sauce. Dessert includes coffee and churros, Marscapone Panna Cotta, shortbread cookie, ginger macerated strawberries, aged balsamic, strawberry chips, and a breakfast muffin to go.

Wine tonight, muffin tomorrow morning, now all we need is to decide what will we want to have for lunch tomorrow.

Yes you read the title correctly, you can find a place to sleep for 30 CENTS through the site Hostel Bookers in the UK. Starting today through Friday, they are giving away 10 beds a day away for .20 GBP which equals 30 CENTS in USD. You must check the site at 7 am EST or 10 AM PST to get the deal because it is on a first come first served basis. The only real caveat is that you must arrive at your destination between May 31 to June 4, 2010 and you must use the reservation yourself, i.e., you can not book for someone else unless you are going with them.

To get a loft in NYC or a place in Miami’s South Beach for this price, it is worth setting your alarm to be online when the sale starts. If you want to travel to a primo location like Barcelona, Florence, or Prague, the options include hostels in all those areas. Remember a hostel is not a five star hotel, so no room service or extras like spa services, but for less than the price of a coffee, you can get a clean place to sleep in locations around the globe. Many people pay 100’s times more to stay in the same area, and they say in real estate, the three most important things to consider are location, location, location, so save on the most important thing so you can splurge on extra things like food and entertainment.

Happy Earth Day!

Oceanhouse Media has a novel way to celebrate if you have an iPhone (it’s also iPad compatible), just download the app Lorax Garden for $2.99 and you can plant (and design) you own plants and trees in a virtual world which you can then send as postcards, keeping it green from inception to reception. You can also download the book for $3.99 and use it either as a reading and teaching tool.

If you prefer your greenery to be actual rather than virtual, the first Zipline in Los Angeles or Orange County is now open on Catalina Island. You will be traveling at speeds of up to 45 miles an hour about 300 feet up in the air over nearly .75 of a mile through five connected platform stations that hover over various areas of Catalina. Each station will teach you something about the areas you are zipping through, so this is not only an exhilarating ride, it will be educational also. It takes about 2 hours and costs $92.50, but the experience will be priceless.

If you still haven’t planned a summer vacation yet, you might want to consider this deal from Travel Zoo which gives you 6 nights in a 1 bedroom suite in Aruba for $629 including airfare from LAX! Price does not include airfare taxes, fees or transfers, but it is still about 40% off the regular price for the three star Aruban Resort.

Just travel between May 1- June 7, or for $60 more, from June 8 – August 30, 2010. The units all include a patio or balcony, dining area, and a kitchenette with a stove, microwave and refrigerator. the resort is across from Eagle Beach, a top rated Travel & Leisure beach destination, and the resort sports two lagoon pools, poolside grill, water slides, and a fitness facility.

Click on this link of call Travelzoo and give them code ARUBA100 by April 23, 2010.

Social Vibe helps feed people, fight cancer, preserve wildlife, educate, and provide clean drinking water, all you need to do is answer some questions that take about 5 minutes of your time for the cause of your choice.

The Extraordinairies allows you to “micro volunteer” to help change the world for the better, whether it is helping log photos from Haiti so people can locate lost loved ones, catalog animal abuse photos for an archive, or inspire children with a message of encouragement. All that is required to be extraordinary is your time.

Free Rice is a game that you play and when you answer correctly, the game sponsors donate rice to feed people, one right answer provides 10 free grains, five right answers is 50 grains. This is one game that you can play to win obsessively that will result in something good for everyone.

Here in Los Angeles, we now have coffee bars, wine bars, a rum bar, and a whiskey bar, but what about a place for those who drink tea? How about a place that serves tea on tap, chilled without ice just like beer in a bar?

T Salon is now open on Melrose and they pride themselves in sustainability both in choosing the teas they sell, but also the products used to build their spaces. They use bamboo for the interiors and corn containers for to go orders. They even serve food to eat with your tea so you can pair a sweet tea with a sweet scone or drink a green tea with your sushi lunch.

They have several organic products available, and if you do not live in either Los Angeles or New York City, they will ship their products to you, so drink as much tea as you wish anywhere you wish.

It is Springtime in Paris and that must mean it is time for the new crop of French films to arrive here at the Director’s Guild for the annual COLCOA (City of Lights & City of Angels) film festival which begins today and runs through April 25.

This is one of the few film festivals I attend religiously (or maybe I should say addictively) because some films are screened here in the US only at this festival and some are new releases with their writers, actors, or directors on hand to answer audience questions after the screenings. Remember that this is a French film festival so that means happy hour films with wine served before the screenings, and maybe you will begin to understand why this festival is so much fun. Some discussion panels are free (as are some movies) and ticket prices are $10 per film with free parking at the building, so why not enjoy some French fare this week?

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