May 3, 2013 |
In some ways farmers markets are a natural fit at universities, where many students crave healthful, local and organic produce. However, schools are largely closed during summer, the busiest season for markets, and the managers - if students run the market - move on regularly, when they graduate. Such are the challenges at the recently established UCLA market, which is small and operates just twice each academic quarter but is a hit with students and staff. It's sponsored by Associated Students UCLA , a student-controlled nonprofit, and managed by volunteers from E3 , a student environmental organization.
April 29, 2013 |
Barbie is vacating her pink Malibu mansion and hunting for international digs. Thomas the Tank Engine is being revamped as an even livelier locomotive. Max Steel, the new kid on the block, is marketed as a "modern day tech superhero. " The toy brands, all properties of Mattel Inc., represent an evolution at the El Segundo company. At age 68, the company is incorporating more digital elements into its toys, embracing more Hollywood partnerships, pushing into foreign markets - whatever it takes to keep its status as the world's largest toy maker.
April 28, 2013 |
Why do some things catch on? How does a steak sandwich from a Philadelphia restaurant, for example, become so famous that it gets a slot on the David Letterman show? Why did Rebecca Black's whiny pop song "Friday" become a viral hit on YouTube? Why have there been more than 300 million views of a video series about a blender? And why do so many other videos, marketing campaigns and products - with perhaps more money, more creatives and even more clever ideas behind them - fail to get noticed?
HOME & GARDEN
April 27, 2013 |
Used to watch that terrific show "Twin Peaks," and I remember the Kyle MacLachlan character saying we should all treat ourselves to a little something - or someone - every day. In his case, it was a nice piece of pie. In my case, it's a cheeseburger, though I try to restrict myself to maybe one a week, for my doctor noted recently that instead of blood, I now have window putty running through my veins and maybe I should ease off a little on...
April 27, 2013 |
Traditionally, working folk dreamed of retiring to California to grow citrus, or more recently wine grapes, but these days the second career crop of choice appears to be artisanal olive oil. Fresh, local oil is all the rage; universities and industry groups help guide aspiring growers, and once their groves start bearing, many sell at farmers markets, where they earn premium prices and enjoy schmoozing with shoppers. Mark Mooring of Buon Gusto Farms followed an unusual version of this path, from starting the Los Angeles Police Department K-9 Platoon to growing olives in Ventura, where he produces richly flavored, award-winning oils.
April 27, 2013 |
Michele and Russell Poland's credit was shot, but they managed to buy their suburban dream home anyway. After a business bankruptcy and a home foreclosure, they turned to a rare option in this era of tightfisted banking - a subprime loan. The Polands paid nearly $10,000 in upfront fees for the privilege of securing a mortgage at 10.9% interest. And they had to raid their retirement account for a 35% down payment. Most borrowers would balk at such stiff terms. But with prices rising, the Polands wanted to snag a four-bedroom home in Temecula near top-rated schools for their 5-year-old son. By later this year, they figure, they'll be able to refinance into a standard loan.
April 26, 2013 |
The head of the firm that wants to buy some of downtown Los Angeles' biggest skyscrapers is bullish about its long-stagnant office market. "We like the direction the market is heading and think it will be improving quarter over quarter. " Dennis Friedrich, chief executive of Brookfield Office Properties Inc., told industry analysts Friday. "Around the globe there has been a trend toward growth in urban centers and L.A. is looking at this over time. " "We are being realistic about the downtown market," he added.
April 23, 2013 |
The number of California homes entering foreclosure plunged in the first quarter, the result of an improving economy, rising home prices and strict new state regulations on lenders. During the year's first three months, new foreclosure actions in the Golden State dropped 51% from the previous quarter and 67% from a year ago, the real estate firm DataQuick reported Tuesday. The quarter's 18,567 default notices were the fewest in more than seven years. The sharp decline coincides with state regulations on banks, meant to curb foreclosure abuses, that took effect Jan. 1. But economic factors also played a big role in the declines, experts say. "If you were going to lose your job, you would have lost your job a long time ago," said Richard Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
April 21, 2013 |
Perhaps you recall the must-see-to-believe story of the Designer Dollhouse Showcase , for which top Los Angeles architects and interior decorators revealed the obsessive-compulsive gene that drives them to get every last detail just right , even if the project at hand is just 1:12 scale of reality? Now comes word that at the charity auction where bidding on each designer dollhouse was expected to start at $15,000, "most" of the 10 houses did sell. Officials declined to specify which ones sold, or for how much, treating the auction results like some matter of national security.
April 20, 2013 |
For many years, Maggie's Farm, based in Agoura Hills, has sold top-quality salad greens and herbs exclusively at farmers markets. Kenter Canyon Farms offers a wider range of similar produce, at a few farmers markets, but mostly wholesale and on a much larger scale. Many shoppers know that the two farms are owned by members of the same family, but few realize that they offer two versions, boutique and commercial, of production that now comes mostly from the same land. On a recent tour of Kenter's Ventura County grounds, the owner of Maggie's, Nate Peitso, who is the son and stepson of the owners of Kenter, showed off scores of immaculately tended hoop houses packed with rows of herbs such as thyme, tarragon and mint.