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November 3, 2008
Six years ago I lost patience with IKEA glassware (I think the Swedish name was EZ SHATAH or KØNSTNT BRAK).
Since I’m saddled with butterfingers, as well as many drunk friends, restaurant-quality replacements seemed fitting. The Dish Factory in downtown Los Angeles promised glassware “made to withstand the grueling day-to-day hustle and bustle of commercial use,” so I bought wine glasses, pint glasses, lowballs and highballs.
As astonishing as it may be, I’ve had only one casualty since 2002.
The experience of shopping the dusty warehouse is not without its irony. The greatest incentive to buy there (supplies for restaurateurs) is also the biggest drawback. Restaurants buy in bulk (a dozen cheese shakers, anyone?), so the more you slice and dice the standard cartons, the steeper the premium. We ended up ordering twice the glasses we planned, but we made it work — extras stocked our swanky new wet bar.
The Dish Factory, in the same location and with the same owner for 30 years, carries regular household supplies like china, pizza pans and ice cream scoops. Still, my favorite thing to do is map out my dream kitchen with their commercial equipment like 50-pound deep fryers ($599.99) and three-tier pastry cases ($124.99).
Now that’s a step above IKEA JÜNK.
Where: 310 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (a second location opened in the Inland Empire)
Related link | home + garden
October 29, 2008
Los Angeles has a place for most kinds of people. Like watching women beat each other while roller skating? Derby Dolls. Want to eat brown bread ice cream? Scoops. Want to go so over-the-top with Christmas decorations that you’ll be sneezing tinsel till March? Moskatel’s.
Curious? Then head to the gigantic craft and floral supply warehouse hidden in a gritty part of downtown. Walking in is like that scene when Dorothy lands in Oz and the movie goes from sepia-tone to a psychedelic riot of color. Only instead of the Kansas countryside, there are homeless people, and instead of Munchkins, find party stuff, wedding supplies, frames, craft materials, art supplies, silk flowers, decor items, vases and ribbons. They even have all the stuff decorators use on TV and in magazines, like a six-foot tall Santa and eight reindeer made entirely of twigs. You’ll find what you need for cheap, cheap, cheap (and even cheaper if you have a wholesaler’s license).
I’ve yet to understand Moskatel’s relationship to its owner, craft giant Michael’s, which is why I took so long to blog about its glorious riches. I’ve decided that it is some kind of ugly stepchild – not even good enough to be featured on the Michael’s website. That just makes it all the more fitting for Los Angeles. Moskatel’s may have a place for you, and Los Angeles has a place for Moskatel’s.
Park: Validated parking adjacent to the store.
When: Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Related links | more downtown
Shop at Michael Levine’s Fabric
October 26, 2008
Expert Opinions are tips from L.A.’s ultimate insiders. In honor of the upcoming holiday, today I’m re-posting contributor and fashion stylist Alexandra Haines’ Halloween post!
Halloween is the one time of year where you can wear whatever you want — forget appropriateness and decency! For a fashionista, it is THE national holiday. I start early — real early — and cast a wide net.
A destination in and of itself, this hideaway earns regular mentions in the pages of Vogue and stocks an amazing collection of vintage clothes. But come Halloween, they load up extras like masks and tutus in a rainbow of colors. In Topanga Canyon right off the main drag, this is a great stop for retro costumes for men and women.
Whether I’m pulling together a costume for a man or woman, this is my mecca for costume extras. Yes, it is a fully functioning costume shop that has not (blessedly) be remodeled since the 60’s. But it also offers a huge supply of wigs and Venetian masks, a wall of fake eyelashes, all types of glitter spray, and my new wardrobe standard — Vegas-style feather headdresses (really, once you buy one you’ll find there are all sorts of occasions to wear it).
I’d say Squaresville is a hipper, cleaner version of Aardvarks, where the buyers really care about what they’re stocking. Some of my greatest regrets come from not buying beautiful pieces I found there, like a sequined butterfly top, trashy white fur coat or an original prairie dress. These wouldn’t have made it into my everyday wardrobe, but could make fantastic retro costumes. Find costumes for men and women.
Got no time and are just going to dress in a skimpy outfit with some sort of animal ears? Try walking Hollywood Boulevard for their cheap costume/lingerie shops and amazing wig shops.
I am a stylist who has been designing clothes and accessories and styling photo shoots. That wouldn’t mean anything if I wasn’t intrinsically interested in how individuals can express themselves uniquely in their dress. Expect no cookie cutter advice here.
Call: 310-908-7605 (Alexandra)
July 2, 2008
The amazing half-off plant sale runs this weekend — July 3-6 — so I am re-posting this tip.
When we bought our first house a few years ago, this is the front yard we got. It was our first attempt at gardening, so I looked to Martha Stewart for guidance. Her books told me to propagate my own plants or risk going broke at the nursery.
Propagate? Are you kidding me?
That’s what 7 Oaks’ half-off plant sale is for. I don’t often go to the 951, but when the sprawling nursery off the 15 in Corona takes 50 percent off every plant they have — from trees in 36 inch boxes to the smallest annual — I make the long drive.
Sales are held twice yearly, over the Columbus Day and Fourth of July weekends. If you decide to check it out, here are a few tips. First, the sale has become quite popular, so shop early for the best selection. Second, take advantage of the neat little sandwich shop in the 7 Oaks convenience store.
Load your truck, then fuel up on fresh sandwiches for the drive home.
When: Thursday, July 3 through Sunday, July 6, 2008
Where: 21501 Temescal Canyon Road, Corona, Ca 92883
What’s your best gardening tip?
February 7, 2008
Why don’t they deliver breakfast?
I can get pizza and sub sandwiches delivered for lunch, and Chinese food or Thai at my door for dinner. But where are the eggs over easy, the waffles and bacon, or steamers of morning dim sum?
There’s a million dollar idea in there somewhere.
Until some enterprising soul makes the leap, the next best thing is cinnamon loaf bread from Thee’s Continental Bakery. Dip slices in egg, fry in butter — in mere moments the most amazing French toast ever is ready to eat.
Anytime I go to the L.A. Farmer’s Market, I hurry to see if Thee’s has a loaf. They bake all the goodies on the premises — the kitchen is right behind the counter — so they don’t make it everyday. If I’m lucky enough to find the bread, I ask the lackadaisical staff to slice it for me.
Then I throw the bread into the freezer for those mornings I just can’t bear to move.
Its so sweet I don’t even need syrup.
Related links | more breakfasts:
February 5, 2008
If you think that Tupperware parties went out in the 80’s, and that you have to be a Stepford Wife to appreciate shopping high quality plastics from your living room, you’ve never met Dixie Longate.
Leave it to a 6-foot-tall drag queen in a Dorothy-from-the-Wizard-of-Oz dress to bring Tupperware back.
Dixie’s a fast-talking, hyperactive single mom with a shock of red hair and a raging libido, fresh from a Mobile, Alabama trailer park. She started selling Tupperware to make her parole officer proud.
Today she’s one of the top salespeople in the country, spreading her deliciously shocking and devilishly hilarious version of the Tupperware gospel, one houseparty at a time.
Dixie’s X-rated show demonstrating Tupperware use (and abuse) has won over young and old, male and female, gay and straight. (If you can believe it, Orange County Republican women are her best customers.)
I came for the show, but in the end, the Tupperware won me over. It appeals on a health level (Tupperware is made with the highest grade food-safe plastic — much better for you than other plastic products), on an environmental level (reusable Tupperware means less disposable packaging from leftovers and snacks), and on a fiscal level (aside from staying out of a landfill, a lifetime guarantee it means I won’t have to buy new containers to replace worn ones).
To schedule your own 45 minutes in heaven with Dixie, work with her to find a time for a no-charge houseparty. Dixie’s so popular she’s turned her show into an off-Broadway play, and she’s planning to take it on a two-year nationwide tour. So if you can’t get a date, search for “Dixie Longate” on YouTube.com. Wet your beak with snippets of her show, then order Tupperware products through her site: www.dixielongate.com.
Just be prepared for a Tupperware party that pushes the boundaries of taste.
December 3, 2007
Gift basket prices always seem inflated for just a bunch of stuff packed in wicker. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making your own.
First, try unique local fillers:
1. Galco’s Soda Pop Stop: Family owned and operated since forever, Galco’s carries 400 different sodas, plus unique beers from around the world and a collection of old-fashioned candy. Last year we filled a cooler with a ton of “nostalgic” pop from the Highland Park landmark — it made a fun gift for an office.
2. San Antonio Winery: Yes, Virginia, there is an L.A. wine country. Established in 1917, San Antonio is the city’s only producing winery, still in its original location near downtown. Bottles run $6 and up.
3. Gust Picolas Nut Company: It’s not much to look at (see photo), but inside the factory store at this downtown L.A. packaging facility is an affordable selection of nuts and dried fruit (including neat stuff like dried strawberries). Get buzzed in at the front door, then choose generous packages of smoked almonds for $4.25 or peanut brittle for $3.25.
Ross: As a mega chain, they can’t crack the top six, but this is a great place for inexpensive baskets. Find piles of them — usually at the back of the store.
Second, assemble your basket with these three tricks: a.) Gifts don’t actually go inside the basket — fill the basket to the top with stuffing and set the gifts so they seem to hover above the basket, b.) choose a smaller basket, and pack in the gifts, and c.) wrap with that crinkly cellophane they sell at the drug store.
A more personal, handmade gift basket on the cheap — and you don’t need a crafty bone in your body.
November 22, 2007
There are always those people you don’t know very well, but around this time of year, a holiday gift “expectation” seems to surface. Maybe it’s your neighbor. Or the postal worker. Or that creepy guy at work whose name you don’t know but whom you don’t want to risk alienating by getting everyone else a gift but him.
For a personable “impersonal” gift, try Diddy Riese in Westwood. Those same big, fresh, rich, soft, cheap cookies (a buck for three) that have customers lining up around the block also make affordable gifts.
For $4.75 they’ll pack a dozen in a bright red bag — ready to be handed over to a lucky recipient. If you want something bigger, try a tin with 18 cookies for $10.50 (cash only).
I know, I know, parking in Westwood can be rough. You can find two hours free parking before 6 p.m. at the public garage at 1036 Broxton (Broxton is southbound only at that point, so come from Le Conte or Weyburn). Walk about a block north and you’re there.
Unlike all those bath product gift sets that probably never get used and just make the rounds each year, Diddy Riese’s cookies won’t get re-gifted — and will probably even be shared. Now that’s a gift.
Price: $-$$ (cash only)
Call: (310) 208-0448
November 15, 2007
Expert Opinions are tips from L.A.’s ultimate insiders. Today’s contributor is animal activist Rachel Paap.
Now that the holidays are upon us, where can you find gear for your best four-legger that’s stylish, top-quality and cheap?
For Proud Parents of Big Dogs: Why do small dogs get the cutest gear and accessories? For dogs over 40 pounds, there are few choices for fashionable, appropriately sized collars. In this size-conscious city, why should our dogs be ashamed to be big and beautiful?
That’s why L.A. local Karen Klopfenstein started Big Boned Dogs, offering handcrafted durable collars that reflect the unique personalities of dogs who don’t fit under the crook of your arm. Dozens of designs — think Izod alligators, cute owls, French toile, fun bees and elegant paisley — come in multiple colors and styles like martingale choker or traditional slide buckle.
These collars are so well-made and adorable, they could easily sell at boutiques for as much as the “little dog stuff.” They don’t! Depending on size and style, they average $25-$35. These are machine washable and long-lasting, so even if your dog plays rough with friends at the park, you won’t have to buy new collars every year (and that saves money, too). Better yet, they’re one of a kind — just like your pups!
For Kitties Too: Most cat owners know the importance of collars and tags. For those multi-cat families (I can’t recommend multiples of cats enough! Two is better than one, and what’s one more with two? Or four . . . six?), tags can often look plain, or fade over time.
Lucky Pet is a great company (they give back to humane organizations) with a fabulous selection of lightweight and small tags in stylish colors for smaller kitties or dogs. And if you’re sick of hearing that cling clang of your pet’s tag against the collar, there are options-a-plenty.
We’re talking quality here — these tags last a long long time. Why not get a few in every color (to go with your cat’s every mood)?
Rachel Paap is the owner of RP Worx, a public relations and marketing boutique agency serving charity organizations, with a focus in the animal welfare field. She is also a highly competitive kareoke singer.
October 23, 2007
Expert Opinions are tips from L.A.’s ultimate insiders. Today’s contributor is Janet (pictured above with her husband), a personal assistant who spent 37 years working for one of Hollywood’s biggest power players.
Even if you live on a ramen budget, there are occasions that demand A-list gifts. Janet turned us on to some shops that impress no matter what your budget:
I had the privilege of working with a boss who had top organizational skills and was a wonderful communicator. Since I was 19 when I started working for him and had the sense to observe and be willing to learn, I gained a great deal of knowledge that I used in a long, successful career.
My boss was a generous man who gave many gifts. Even to this day, there are two places that I would highly recommend to anyone for great gifts:
Edelweiss Chocolates is a paradise. They cover and dip just about anything and everything in chocolate – fruit, marshmallows, you name it. Their gift boxes are elegantly wrapped and you can buy one piece or one hundred.
Beverly Hills Seed is a wonderful store where you can choose from a large assortment of lush, healthy plants in beautiful decorative pots. My favorites are all the varieties of orchids that you will find in several sizes and prices.
Beverly Hills Seed, 9526 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, Ca 90210, 310-276-3501, $$$$
Where do you get A-list gifts?