Thanks to Dignity Health and InNetwork for partnering with me so that I can bring these words to your eyes, and hopefully, to your heart. (Disclosure.) #Sponsored
“I believe that an intentional act of kindness, is a unique stance of being that comes from the heart, that impacts your own life as much as it helps others in their time of need. For it is in giving that we receive, and when we give with intent without expecting anything in return, it is then that our heart is filled with love, peace, and joy.” ~Melissa Reyes of MizMeliz.com
I want to tell you about an innovative way that Dignity Health is providing help to those in need and share with you an inspirational story about someone who shows intentional compassion in his daily life. I hope to express what motivates me to use my talents and strengths to help people in need as well as spread awareness about the effects that acts of intentional kindness and service can have on society and in our own lives.
The Volunteer Match on the Hello Humankindness website unites people with ways to go above and beyond a random act of kindness and provides the most effective and impactful ways to give to non-profit organizations. This is especially handy during the holidays, but it doesn’t stop there.
It is important for us to realize that we can make a difference. By helping someone in need, we are not only helping that one person with one act, we are changing the world and making it a better place for EVERYONE. It just takes one person and one act at a time. We can make a difference in our own lives, in the life of the person we help, and we can produce growth and prosperity for everyone in the world by sharing our experiences and spreading the positivity. That is what the Hello Humankindness campaign is all about.
At the heart of the Hello Humankindness.org website – you will find the Volunteer tab. This is where you are called to action. This is where you can connect and if you act on it, this is the door to finding your happy place and your next experience in helping to make the world better, healthier,and happier. Use the “Volunteer” tab on the Hello Humankindness website to find opportunities to perform an Intentional Act of Kindness.
Through their partnership with Volunteer Match, Dignity Health has compiled information about the most meaningful and impactful ways to give to non-profit organizations, when the need for these organizations is highest, and what kind of volunteering actually helps the most in need in the most effective way.
Our social news feeds are being inundated with short-form examples of kindness – Random Acts of Kindness, Upworthy videos, and Buzzfeed lists. These posts promise easy ways to perform token acts that have little impact on the beneficiary and mostly serve to boost the ego and get attention for the giver. This is especially acute around the holidays as people wrestle with their own sense of charity and altruism.
During this holiday season, there is an opportunity to cut through the noise and promote Intentional Acts of Kindness – acts of compassion that aren’t necessarily easy to commit, but are thoughtful, impactful, and have the potential to lead to a more kind world.
Here is my favorite thing that Hello Humankindness is doing and it is on Instagram! Nothing to download, no website to connect with, just go to your Instagram, follow @HelloHumankindness and check out suggestions for Intentional Acts of Kindness – some are as simple as reposting and spreading awareness.
“Our goal is to cut through the noise of token acts of kindness and promote Intentional Acts of Kindness #IAK.” ~Dignity Health
I am proud to say that I see many intentional acts of kindness happen all around me in my daily life. Starting with my kind, generous and thoughtful family, I was raised to be helpful and to always give unconditional love. I also work in a place that teaches and practices what is called apostolic works. More than community or Christian service, it is a form of selfless aid to those who are in need of our unique talents and strengths. I am also quite fortunate (and believe me, very grateful) to live in a society and culture that is willing and able to come to the aid of the needy. Especially during devastation and times of hardship (including personal tragedy) I have seen first-hand how people can come together and enrich the lives of others when it is most needed.
Not everyone in our world is as fortunate. In fact, most people will go their entire lives without ever knowing such goodness exists. Some may fall victim to the random acts of kindness, acts that are completed for self-gratification or status, without forethought. Perhaps meaning well, but terribly misinformed, our society has turned to performing these acts to attract attention from the public. I am sure that many people are helped in these momentary instances, or are made to feel good at the time. Yet, what is truly needed is a deeper understanding of how we can help our fellow man and make a positive and lasting change in their lives.
I have thought about this quite a bit, in fact for this entire year I have had a blog post in my draft folder that I have kept going back to and not publishing about a special person in my life who is the most selfless and kind man I know. It is more difficult than I thought to highlight the goodness of a truly kind person. More than just being nice, or kind, this man lives each day with an enormous amount of compassion. He makes his goal to help those who are often forgotten in our society, all the time – not just in the midst of media hype or at the holidays, or after a storm or earthquake – all the time.
My brother, Jonathan Lopez, is one example of a person who has an enormous capacity for intentional compassion. When Dignity Health asked me to help out in spreading the word about Intentional Acts of Kindness, his story is the first thing that came to mind.
You will be surprised how easy it is once you get started. By using a website or an app, like Hellohumankindness.org – you will be well on your way to making a real impact on our society and making positive differences in the lives of people everywhere.
I realize that for most people, it isn’t easy to know for sure if an organization is legit and if you don’t know someone who needs your help, where do you turn? Who can you trust? There are many places one can go to find information about volunteering. This is when you can use the Volunteer Match tab on the Hellohumankindness.org site that helps people find volunteer opportunities in their neighborhoods.
What blows me away is how once you get started with being kind and taking it outside of yourself and putting aside your own needs to help others, it becomes a part of who you are. That is what I mean when I tell you that one act can and does make a difference. This is something good that we want to spread.
This will knock your socks off – but it doesn’t surprise me as it has become the norm. As I am writing this, believe it or not, I received this text message from my brother, Jonathan:
“Melissa, I am supporting Living Purpose Community Center in Chatsworth. They are having trouble collecting toys for 50 homeless kids attending elementary schools in the West Valley. These kids live with a parent in their cars and in people’s garages. Please let me know if you know of any organizations that may have extra toys or if you know anyone who can refer me to someone who might be able to help.” Thx, Jonathan
Jonathan is ALWAYS doing this kind of thing. He thinks and acts way beyond his own course of action and abilities. He engages others to help out when he can’t. He asks for assistance, he develops relationships and connects people with others who need each other. Jonathan’s values are just like those of Dignity Health. It has become a part of his character to be kind and helpful to those in need.
How could he possibly know that I was just considering reaching out to help someone in need? He doesn’t need to know. He just acts, with intention, with compassion. You can too!
After years of connecting with organizations like Dignity Health, projects seem to come to me at times when I am willing and able to forge action. I know how special that is and I never take it for granted. But it is not that easy for everyone. One way to see beyond your front door and find opportunities to help others is at your fingertips right now.
I encourage you to think broader past the small daily acts of kindness, to focus on the most impactful ways you can help, give, and donate your time, your talent, your abilities, and your generous spirit during the holiday season, and always. When you do, you will see how doing so takes you to a place that is beyond happy.
This year at the holidays, I will be collecting toys for the homeless kids who live in my very own community and I will be sharing my experiences with you.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to partner with Dignity Health for this campaign and look forward to learning about ways that you have made a change for the better and live happier, be healthier, and share kindness every day. (See full disclosure here.)
He is my brother. He inspires me daily by his example. Here are some things he has accomplished, and these are just a few ways he has made his life’s work to help others…
Kaiser Permanente Program Provides Hope and Resources to Homeless Patients
By Michael Carter
Homeless patients are getting the help they need to rebuild their lives thanks to a unique program at Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center. Led by staff member Jonathan Lopez, the Homeless
Navigator Pilot Program aims to find shelter and other vital community services for homeless patients who seek care in their emergency department.
The program is the first of its kind for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California. This unique program addresses the needs of homeless patients by using a coordinated approach that involves a dedicated team of staff and community resource providers. The team consists of physicians, nurses, social workers, case manager, administrators, and the Homeless Navigator.
Since its inception in April, 2012, the program has placed more than 576 homeless patients into shelters, transitional housing, permanent housing, and substance abuse treatment programs. That’s a dramatic increase from 2011, when just 25 homeless patients were placed in shelters during the entire year.
“We offer an atmosphere of hope and caring to our homeless clients and we are making a significant difference.” ~Jonathan Lopez
The program has been so successful in ending homelessness for Kaiser Permanente patients that it has become a new model of care for this vulnerable population. During the past year, the program has received many accolades, including the 2013 Community Impact Partner of the Year Award from Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission and the Community Partnership Award from The Salvation Army in March 2013.
“Kaiser Permanente is not only a leading provider in health care, but now they are leading the way in health and human services through their Homeless Navigator Program,” said Ken Craft, president and chief operating officer for Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. The Mission is a non-profit agency serving thousands of men, women, children and their families in the San Fernando Valley.
“Through the leadership of Mr. Lopez, homeless people who come to the hospital are treated with dignity and respect and they are connected to community resources. The program links the homeless with service providers that assist them with accessing case management and wrap around resources. ,This unique program has been a catalyst in transforming the landscape of homeless service providers. Now, thanks to Kaiser Permanente and the San Fernando Valley Homeless Service Providers we are all working together to assist the most vulnerable in our society,” added Craft.
Here’s how the program works:
Lopez serves as a liaison between Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center and nonprofit community partners that offer an array of services, including shelter, food, clothing, job assistance and substance abuse treatment. That’s in addition to permanent housing which is the main component to ending homelessness.
Working with emergency medicine physicians, nurses, case managers, social workers, and deputy administrators Lopez connects homeless patients with the services they need to end their homelessness.
Tom Gray, 46, credits the Homeless Navigator Pilot Program with saving his life. Addicted to crystal methamphetamine, he lost his home and job and had been living on the streets for many years. He came to the attention of homeless team after seeking emergency treatment for an abscess on his leg.
With the team’s support, Gray is now rebuilding his life. He is living at the Cabrito House, a sober living home for men overcoming alcohol addiction. He is also working as a sales representative for a heating and air conditioning company in Canoga Park, where he has been the sales leader for three out of 11 months. In his spare time, Gray gives motivational speeches to patients at the Tarzana Treatment Center, a behavioral health care organization that provides substance abuse and mental health treatment to adults and teens.
“Without this Homeless Navigator Program, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. I would have gone back to the streets,” said Gray. “It’s a great program.” The homeless navigator team is committed to helping more people like Gray.
Last summer, Lopez expanded his scope of responsibilities, assisting homeless patients that had not entered the emergency department and consulted with dozens of homeless clients monthly after they were discharged from the ER. As the Homeless Navigator, Lopez develops community partnerships, through which Kaiser Permanente’s NavigationTeam is able to arrange for transportation and placement in local shelters, transitional housing and substance abuse treatment programs, when needed.
The goal of the Homeless Service Provider partnerships is to facilitate access to a continuum of care and coordinated services enabling them to identify long-term solutions to improve homeless clients’ living conditions and ultimately end their state of homelessness through permanent housing. Community Partners include the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, House of Hope, LA Family Housing, Columbus and Corbin House, San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission in North Hollywood, the Bell Access Center, Genesis House and The Lighthouse, a shelter for women and children in Ventura County.
In addition the Homeless Navigator Pilot Program works closely with Tarzana Treatment Center, Northeast Valley Health Corporation, and the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center. The newest community partners include the Frequent User System Engagement System (F.U.S.E) and SSG Alliance – Project 40.
Paul Read, president of the Cabrito Foundation, which oversees the operations of the Cabrito House, a sober living house for recovering alcoholic men, praised Lopez’ hands-on role in assisting homeless individuals.
“It is a great privilege to work with someone as dedicated as Mr. Lopez. He works tirelessly to find people just the right place that will give them the best chance to regain their status in the community,” said Read. “We are fortunate to be a part of his team.”
The Homeless Navigator Pilot Program benefits not only homeless patients but the community partners as well.
For the past 18 months, Kaiser Permanente employees have volunteered to prepare and serve dinner at L.A. Family Housing, The Lighthouse, and the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission. The staff also helped paint the library at The Salvation Army and partnered with the agency on several events. Joint activities include The United Way 5K Walk to End Homelessness, the 2013 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count and tuberculosis screening for residents of the organization’s residential substance abuse treatment program.
“We’re developing an interactive, supportive resource-sharing partnership with our homeless service providers,” said Lopez. “Our goal is to provide the highest quality of care for our homeless neighbors and to be the best community partner possible.”
*posted with permission from Kaiser Permanente, Woodland Hills
“Just wanted to congratulate you again for the Hope of the Valley award Saturday night. Well deserved and truly a labor a love. Where would we all be without the support of people like yourself and your ‘friends’ when things go bump in the night and you feel totally helpless, scared and hopeless….. “
“Thanking you from the bottom of all our hearts…. Kaiser family & framily : )”
Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission 2014 CATALYST AWARD:
Presented to Jonathan Lopez,
“Creating Lasting Sustainable Change for Those Who Need It the Most”
In 2015, Jonathan begins a new path on his journey as the V.P. of Development for Hope of the Valley. With his partners and community connections, he will lead the way in establishing a new facility that will offer transitional care for homeless and needy people when they are discharged from the hospital and have nowhere else to turn.
In addition to all that he does for the community at large, John is always there for me. He actively supports his own family and mine in everything we do and he leads our family with great pride and undoubted unconditional love. Joyful, joyous, caring, sensitive, funny, humble, celebrated and beloved, he is the best friend to have and of course, an amazing person to have as my brother!
Jonathan has been honored with many awards for his service and commitment to helping others. I am quite proud of him for that. My entire family is immensely proud of all of his and my sister-in-law, Jennifer Lyons Lopez’ work as they both devote their life’s passion to helping others. By posting this, I not only commend them for their actions, but it is my hope to inspire you to do something. Every little bit helps.
I wrote this post and shared the articles above for the simple joy and pride it brings me. I am not affiliated in any way with any of the organizations mentioned above, other than in connection to my family members who serve as employees or as volunteers.
Located next door to the World Famous Chinese Theatre, Madame Tussauds is Hollywood’s newest must-see attraction where you can see, touch and take photos with all of your favorite celebrities! (Disclosure)
ONE DIRECTION is the latest attraction at Madame Tussauds on their stop in Hollywood while on their ‘world tour’!
This Christmas, you can meet Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis – or at least their wax figures – at Madame Tussauds Hollywood!
It is a thrill to stand up next to your favorite celebrities and snap a photo, they look so realistic on camera. I was glad I had an opportunity to “meet” some of my favorite heartthrobs…
I can’t believe one of our all time favorite comedians and beloved actors is gone! I never got to meet him IRL – but I do have this…
KIDS GO FREE – Madame Tussauds Hollywood w/ Adult admission.
Madame Tussauds London treated the One Direction boys to a sneak peek of their finished wax figures at a secret viewing on 18th April 2013, before their gig in Nottingham. The boys were stunned by the likeness as they came face-to-face with their amazingly lifelike wax figures for the first time. The figures were then unveiled to fans at Madame Tussauds London, where guests visited them before they embarked on a ‘world tour’. They are currently in Hollywood, CA and you can see them through December 31st.
We experienced the Jump Around Birthday Party at Sky Zone and it was a Slam Dunk! (Disclosure)
The JUMP AROUND BIRTHDAY PARTY PACKAGE includes:
Admission for up to 10 jumpers with 1 HOUR OF JUMP TIME
Three Medium pizzas
Unlimited soft drinks during room time
40 min in a private room after jump time
with a party coordinator who takes care of everything
You know how sometimes, maybe most of the time, you work so hard to make everything perfect for your family, friends, or boss – and they don’t seem to appreciate it or at least aren’t as wowed as you’d hoped they would be? I will admit it, that has been my “m.o.” for a long time. Now that my kids are older, I don’t work as hard to please everyone. And guess what! They are just as happy and appreciative as ever. It truly is the thought that counts. You don’t have to work yourself to the bone to make everything turn out great. My favorite people pleaser is when I can order dinner and everyone loves it. Yeah, that was soo hard, I slaved away making that phone call…my finger is a little sore. But it was worth it!
Okay, I digress. You are wondering what all this has to do with slam dunks and sky jumps about now.
My son’s birthday is in December, just before Christmas and in the midst of all the holiday hustle and bustle. Every year, I struggle with how much I can do for him, and how much I can get away with not doing, and when the guilt sets in, I have over compensated with expensive gifts and unfulfilled promises. Well, his guardian angel was looking out for him this time!
When I found out that there is an indoor trampoline park where they have parties that come complete with a host, pizza, drinks, party supplies, decorations, cake, and a gift – and jumping around a super fun arena – and all I had to do was make a phone call – I was overjoyed! It was too easy. I just called and set the date. My son invited his friends. We all met at the Sky Jump in Van Nuys. That was it. It was fun! It was incredibly easy. My son and his friends had a blast. I went home feeling relaxed and super happy. My son was super appreciative. And now, I can’t wait to go back. What? Wait. Okay, yes, I think I might want to have my big 50 party there. Why not?
The pictures below will tell the story – and yes, I did make a slam dunk, in more ways than one!
Double Your Jump Time! At Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Parks
Tired of the same old birthday party? Tired of having to do all the set up and clean up? Let the team members at Sky Zone take care of everything for you as your party SOARS above all others on our patented, all-trampoline, walled playing courts.
Maximize your FUN and create a truly memorable experience with an out-of-this-world party package:
Double Your Jump Time! – For a limited time only, book your child’s birthday party with us and receive double the jump time!
That’s 2 hours of Wall-to-Wall fun!
Call to reserve your party time today!
Available at the Riverside, Van Nuys and Covina locations!
Photo credit: Lito Reyes Dec. 2014
If you are like me, even though I have lists of things that must be done before Christmas, I am already thinking of what to do on New Year’s Eve! I was just thinking about that when I received an email from LM&A with nine suggestions for awesome dining and entertainment with New Year’s in mind. Great minds think alike! But now, I have a decision to make. Where shall I celebrate on New Year’s Eve?
In Los Angeles, Pasadena, Sherman Oaks and Valencia This New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day!
These all come recommended by my friends at Lawrence Moore & Associates (Disclosure) – –
and Solita Tacos and Margaritas is recommended by me, Miz Meliz!
The Countdown Begins….
Cardamom is welcoming in the New Year in a BIG way, with an elaborate four-course New Year’s Eve menu for only $50.00 per person. Start the evening with a complimentary Glass of Champagne and the traditional Indian bite, Pani Puri thatwill be waiting to greet you when you walk through the door. Once you take your seat, you will be offered the option of ordering a Tandoori Platter with Chicken Tikka, Sheekh Kabob, Onion Piazza and Vegetable Pakora, or aVegetable Platter that includes Sigara, Onion Piazza and a Vegetable Pakora. For the main course select from the Murgh Tikka Masala, diced chicken tikka tossed in Hyderabadi spices cooked in lusciously, creamy tomato sauce,Jhinga Patia, tiger prawns cooked in a zesty, hot and sour sauce, or Aloo Palak, potatoes and baby spinach tossed with turmeric. Main dishes will also be accompanied by Zafrani Rice, made from Chef Manju’s special recipe and fresh baked Naan with house-made Raita for the table to share. We hope you saved room, because dessert promises Gulab Jamun, a lovely cheese dumpling immersed in a saffron-infused syrup, along with traditional Indian-spiced Chai Tea or fresh brewed Coffee. Cardamom will offer two seating’s on New Year’s Eve, one at 5:30 pm and the other at 8:00 pm. Cardamom will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 5:00 pm to 10:30 pm; 7233 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036; 323.936.1000; www.CardamomLA.com
Photo: Cardamom Interior
Photo Credit: acuna-hansen
Let your last meal of 2014 be prepared by a Drago! Executive Chef Calogero Drago invites you to join him at Celestino Ristorante & Bar for a special Four-Course New Year’s Eve Menu in celebration of 2015. Start the evening off with an appetizing Antipasto course, offering a choice of Veal Tortellini or Steamed Lobster over sweet pea purée, followed by a Second Course of delicate Smoked Salmon Crepes with mascarpone and caviar or luxurious Arborio Rice with Sea Urchin and champagne sauce. For the Main Course, guests can select from an elegant Chilean Sea Bass with vegetables timball and Filet of Guinea Fowl generously stuffed with sausage and porcini mushrooms, bathed in a decadent black truffle sauce. We hope you saved room, as the crown jewel of this New Year’s Eve feast is a Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake that can be described in just one word – sinful. For daintier diners, all dishes from the New Year’s Eve menu will be available à la carte, in addition to Celestino’s Annual Holiday Menu for guests to enjoy as well. Because, as Chef Calogero likes to say, “Life is beautiful!” Celestino Ristorante will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 5:30 pm to 12:00 am. 141 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA, 91101; 626.795.4006; www.CelestinoPasadena.com
Photo: Celestino RistoranteInterior
Photo Credits: Moretti Photo; Danny Liao
When thinking of Pasadena and New Year’s, our minds automatically go to one thing: The Rose Parade. But this year, it’s not just the roses that will have you heading to Pasadena; it will be the new craft cocktail hot spot that is hosting the best bash in town… Welcome to Magnolia House! A $25.00 entry fee will grant you access into this sexy little craftsman bungalow on New Year’s Eve where tunes will be spun by a Live DJ and all Magnolia House guests welcoming in 2015 will receive a Complimentary Welcome Cocktail,Party Favors, Complimentary Champagne Toast at Midnight and a special Magnolia House Gift Bag filled with special commemorative goodies. After just one sip of your handcrafted ‘Welcome Cocktail’ from the masterful hands of Bar Manager Colin Shearn, you know it’s going to be a night to remember. The DJ’s beats will pump through the air and get your appetite grooving as you make your way through Magnolia Houses’ bespoke menu of shared plates and eclectic bar snacks courtesy of Executive Chef Kyu Yi. Make sure your final memories of 2014 are delicious ones by ordering an array of festive and easily shareable favorites like the Truffle Pistachios with shaved black truffle-infused sea salt, Shrimp Toasts with herb salad and a sesame ginger aioli, Ahi Sashimi with a ponzu, smoked-salt and wasabi vinaigrette, crushed wasabi peas and crispy fried kale, Korean Short Rib served atop a shiitake and baby kale risotto with pickled daikon and crushed sesame, and let us not forget the always-comforting, yet equally luxurious King Crab Mac & Cheese which combines three cheeses into a luscious sauce with roasted red pepper that is topped with a bacon and herb crumble. Then gather around the fireplace as the clock nears midnight, put on your party hats and get out your noisemakers as the ball prepares to drop and champagne kisses signal that 2015 is finally here. Don’t want the party to end? Neither does Magnolia House! Stay for a nightcap… literally, and sip on the Magnolia House Nightcap cocktail that shakes up coffee bean Cynar with blanc vermouth and fresh fig bitters. For table reservations and large parties, please contact Magnolia House directly for availability and pricing – seating is limited. Magnolia House will be open for regular service on Wednesday, December 31st from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The Magnolia House official New Year’s Eve Party will commence from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am; 492 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101; 626.584.1126; www.TheMagHouse.com
Photo: Magnolia House Bar
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Magnolia House
Looking for a cool, casual spot to fuel your New Year’s Eve cravings in Sherman Oaks? Motor over to MURPH’S, for delicious down-home favorites like the finger lickin’ good Potato Puffs dusted with fresh parmesan and chives, Sweet Corn Soup with chili and bacon, Prince Edward Island Mussels served with smoked sausages and grilled baguette, or the Fried Chicken Sandwich piled high with spicy slaw, bacon, cheddar cheese and pickled jalapeños. The MURPH’S crew wishes everyone a sweet New Year by offering guestsA Complimentary Dessert along with Party Hats and Noisemakers so that you can feel as though you’re right in the middle of Time Square while watching the Ball Drop on one of the bar’s five TV’s and nine foot big screen. Receive A Complimentary Glass of Champagneto toast friends and loved ones once the clock strikes twelve. Staying past midnight? Make sure to sip on MURPH’S signature cocktail, the Oil Change, with bourbon, ginger, honey, lemon and you will be set to start your engines and rev up for a great 2015! MURPH’S will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 4:00 pm to 2:00 am; 14649 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA, 91403;818.986.9999;www.MurphsLA.com
Photo: MURPH’S Interior
Photo Credit: Moretti Photo
No one should begin a New Year hungry, and after a New Year’s Eve dinner at solita Tacos & Margaritas in Valencia, you most certainly won’t be! For only $14.75, the El Primo Taco Taster Plate lets you mix and match four of their incredible tacos including Wood Grilled Ancho Chile Chicken, Oak-Roasted Chipotle Chicken, Pork Carnitas, Chorizo Bacon & Sweet Potato, Crispy Fried Fish, Chile-Garlic Tofu, Wood-Grilled Carne Asada, Red Chile Beef Borracho, Wood-Grilled Fish Mazatlan, Beer Battered Shrimp or Sautéed Mushroom and a choice of one side. We know what you’re thinking, “what more could I possibly want?” How about a sampling from solita’s 40+ unique tequilas, including theCasa Noble Single Barrel that is carefully blended exclusively for solita and their big sister, SOL. Don’t miss the Grande Casa Noble Margarita, shaken tableside, for a chance to experience this rare tequila at its finest. If you are able to keep your taco-induced food-coma at bay, stick around for a Complimentary Champagne Toast at midnight, along with Party Hats, Noisemakers and other festive Party Favors! solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia will be open onWednesday, December 31st from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm with the bar remaining open until Midnight; 24201 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 3470, Valencia, CA 91355; 661.291.1399; www.solitatacos.com
For a skinny-licious start to 2015, join your friends at solita Tacos & Margaritas in Valencia for a Skinny Burrito stuffed with Ensalada Picada, your choice of protein, cotixa, avocado and crunchy tortilla strips inside of a red burrito wrap. Pair your Skinny Burrito with a solita Skinny Margarita that is a little less sweet and little more tart for a deliciously guilt-free New Year’s Day feast. Do your New Year’s resolutions begin on January, 2nd? Then you’ll want to order the Bulldog – a refreshing beer/margarita made with Agavales blanco tequila, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, Jarritos grapefruit soda and an upturned Coronita all in a monster-sized goblet. And you can’t order a Bulldog without it’s ultimate partner in crime, the El Panzón’ “Big Belly,” which is like a Mexican calzone – a single flour tortilla folded and super-stuffed with meat and cheese, butter-crisped on the comal, topped with guacamole, sour cream, lettuce and salsa fresca. If that doesn’t have you howling, we don’t know what will! solita Tacos & Margaritas will be open on Thursday, January 1st from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm with the bar remaining open until Midnight; 24201 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 3470, Valencia, CA 91355; 661.291.1399; www.solitatacos.com
Spend the last night of 2014 drinking and dancing to the beats of DJ Heat Maxwell & WLDCT as we count down to 2015 at The Raymond & 1886 Bar’s Ultimate New Year’s Eve Bash! Make your way to the bar for a festive collection of celebratory libations including Barman Peter Llyod Jones’ favorite seasonal sipper, the Huckleberry Sour, a bourbon sour made with huckleberry jam, fresh lemon and singed rosemary. The Raymond’s Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan will be providing delicious shared plates to satisfy famished partygoers from 10:00 pm to 12:30 am. Ticket prices will include Live Entertainment a Champagne Toast at Midnight and classic Party Favors. Insider tip: purchase your party tickets ahead of time at www.EventBrite.com and score a “Friends & Family” discount of $20.00 when you enter the code “RAY86!”
If you’re planning to party the night away into the wee hours of 2015, chances are you will want some dinner to go with it. Kick off New Year’s Eve with Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan’s special Five-Course New Year’s Eve Menu for $115.00 per person, or $135.00 per person for the second seating, including access to 1886 Bar’s Ultimate New Year’s Eve Bash. The indulgences begin with a choice of Baked Potato Gelato & Smoked Wild Steelhead Roe with “all the fixins,” or the Micro-Farmed Massachusetts Oyster with vanilla bean and champagne. Next up you’ll select from a Wild Fijian Albacore with pear, chili, miso and kumquat or a buttery Roasted North Atlantic Scallop served atop black trumpets, winter squash and wild basil. For the Third Course enjoy either A Warm Soup of Potato & Parmesan garnished with shaved Oregon black truffles and freshly grated nutmeg, or the Whisper Farm’s Arugula & Winter Fruit, a salad of aged pecorino, golden beets and a honey-walnut vinaigrette. Main course offerings include a vegetarian Artichoke Ravioli, Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast, North Pacific Cod and a classic Dry Aged New York Steak. You’ll want to save room for Dessert to sample the delectable Manjari Chocolate Custard served with caramelized banana, sable chocolát and rum roasted banana-dulce de leche ice cream. But wait – there’s more… A Dulce Chocolate Truffleprovides a final sweet bite and added caffeine jolt to keep your energy pumping until 1886 Bar’s countdown to 2015! Early Seating: Available in The Dining Room between 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm for $115.00 per person. Second Seating:Available between 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm for $135.00 per person (Includes access to 1886 Bar’s Ultimate New Year’s Eve Bash). A credit card is required to hold the reservation with a 48-hour cancellation policy. 1250 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105; 626.441.3136; www.TheRaymond.com
Photo: The Raymond Exterior
Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Raymond/1886
What better way to say goodbye 2014, than with Champagne & Oysters? Head over to Tipple & Brine in Sherman Oaks this New Year’s Eve for bivalves, bubbles and a delicious seafood feast! All guests will receive a surprise New Year’s Eve Amuse Bouche compliments of Tipple & Brine to start the evening, and then begin with favorites from the Raw Bar including Hamachi with lime curd, chili relish and peanuts, a Salmon Tartare with lemon aioli, pickled ginger and celery served with brioche, and of course a dozen or so of the day’s best Oysters. Make it a point to order the decadent Sea Urchin Toast with avocado mousse, radish and scallions, and the Fried Octopus with squid ink aioli, eggplant, shishitos and mojo to share. For Entrées, the Market Fish served atop black lentils with pancetta relish and a delicate herb salad is cooked to perfection, while the Seafood Stew with clams, mussels, gulf shrimp and rockfish in a tomato and fennel broth is the perfect wintertime fix. Though there will be a Complimentary Champagne Toast at Midnight (with Noise Makers and Party Favors too!) guests will also want to try either the New Year’s Sour crafted with whiskey, lemon, simple sugar, bitters and a cabernet float or the Grapefruit Twist with champagne, grapefruit liqueur, vodka, grapefruit twist, lemon, honey and a lemon twist. Hello, 2015! Tipple & Brine will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 4:30 pm to 2:00 am; 14633 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA, 91403; 818.528.2580; www.TippleandBrine.com
Photo: Tipple & Brine Interior
Photo Credit: Moretti Photo
Celebrate a Rockin’ New Year’s Eve at Tunnel Bar! The exclusive bar and lounge above Tipple & Brine will be open late this New Year’s Eve, serving up a pair of specialty cocktails all-night-long. The serious cocktail aficionado will appreciate the Candidate, made with rye whiskey, honey and grapefruit juice. Meanwhile those wanting something a bit lighter, but equally delicious to sip on should try the Countdown a sparkling mix of Appleton rum, Aperol, lime, honey and Prosecco. Those staying to watch the ceremonious ball drop on the big screen will receive Party Hats, Noise Makers and Complimentary Glass of Champagne when the countdown to 2015 begins. Access to Tunnel Bar is granted through Tipple & Brine. Tunnel Bar will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 7:00 pm to 2:00 am; 14633 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403; 828.528.3434; www.TunnelBarLA.com
Photo: Tunnel Bar Interior
Photo Credit: Courtesy Tunnel Bar
Those looking for a delicious way to kick-off the evening can enjoy a special New Year’s Eve Prix-fixe Menu at the downstairs Crab Shell Bar before the party really gets going at 8:00 pm. Sit down to a three-course menu showcasing seasonal winter specialties curated by the Venice Whaler’s Executive Chef Nick Liberato. The First Course will offer a choice of Smoked Tomato Soup with fennel pollen, crème fraîche and chives or a dish of Roasted Beets with goat cheese, toasted pistachios and peppery wild arugula. For the Main Course, sample the traditional Grilled Branzino with macadamia nuts, olives and fresh oregano or Slow Braised Short Rib served atop creamy polenta with a zesty lemon-shiso gremolata (a vegetarian option will be available upon request). Dessert will be a light, sweet and savory Strawberry Basil Napoleon layered with fresh cream, lemon and celery. Dining at the Venice Whaler this New Year’s Eve doesn’t just promise a fantastic meal. Those indulging in the prix-fixe menu for $65.00 per person will also be able to choose from one of Bar Manager Anthony Settecase’s hand-crafted seasonal cocktails including a Hot Toddymade with brandy, honey, fresh cranberries and mint or a delicious homemade Egg Nog with brandy and fresh nutmeg, as well as gain free access to the evening’s Winter Wonderland bash beginning at 8:00 pm! For New Year’s Eve dinner reservations ($65.00 per person, including admission to Winter Wonderland), please contact the Venice Whaler directly. A credit card is required to hold the reservation with a 48-hour cancellation policy. The Venice Whaler will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 11:00 am to 2:00 am; 10 West Washington Boulevard., Venice, CA 90292; 310.821.8737; www.venicewhaler.com
A white Winter Wonderland on Venice Beach? Yep, you read that right! It’s going to be a New Year’s Eve to remember at the Venice Whaler, where guests will enter down a Red Carpet frosted with Snow into a mystical Winter Wonderland. Champagne will greet you at the door a Complimentary Glass of Bubbly before you make your way to the upper deck to dance to the tunes spun by a Live DJunder the fresh falling SNOW(alright, it’s from a machine – this is LA after all). Favor a Live Acoustic Band over a top 40 playlist? Then you’ll want to spend the night downstairs in the Crab Shell Bar, where you can also find the Winter-Themed Photo Booth, for perfect take-home souvenirs to remember the magical evening – even if you don’t! Presale tickets to the Venice Whaler’s Winter Wonderland New Year’s Eve Bash ($20.00 per person) will be available for purchase by contacting the Venice Whaler directly. Tickets will also be for sale at the door on New Year’s Eve for $30.00 per person. The Venice Whaler will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 11:00 am to 2:00 am; 10 West Washington Boulevard., Venice, CA 90292; 310.821.8737;www.venicewhaler.com
If New Year’s Day at the beach sounds like the perfect way start-off 2015, then head right back to the Venice Whaler for a special New Year’s Day Brunch on the boardwalk! Ready to retox? The crowd-pleasing Crab Shell Bloody Mary provides a spicy kick and comes with your very own crab claw. Select your booze to pair with brunch time favorites such as Eggs Benedict, Short Rib Hash, or Fried Chicken & Waffles for ultimate satisfaction. Meanwhile, detoxers will be happy to see Groundworks Coffee, fresh squeezed juices and lighter options like a build-your-own Egg White Omelet and a healthy Kale Salad on the menu. Partied hard and looking to stay in your sweatpants all day? Grab some delicious grub from the Venice Whaler Take-Away window including the eye-opening Day Tripper, a specialty juice that blends lemon, ginger, tomato, cayenne and cucumber, or go for the ultimate hangover cure: a Spicy Street Dog. The Venice Whaler will be open on Thursday, January 1st from 9:00 am to 2:00 am; New Year’s Day brunch will be served from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm; 10 West Washington Boulevard., Venice, CA 90292; 310.821.8737;www.venicewhaler.com
Photos: Venice Whaler Exterior; Crab Shell Bloody Mary
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Venice Whaler