Ask the Expert: Coffee Tips

Ask the Expert: Coffee Tips

In honor of National Coffee Day, Local LA Roaster and makers of family-crafted Don Francisco’s Coffee share three great coffee tips and some fun tidbits!

We tapped Lisette Gaviña Lopez, a fourth generation coffee roaster and marketing director for F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc. the coffee roaster her grandfather founded over 50 years ago.

What makes a great cup of coffee?

Some don’t give a second thought to what goes into their daily cup of coffee. It’s enough to know that you just need a cup or two, or three, to get you through the day. But what goes into making a great cup of coffee? Lisette breaks it down to the basics:

“Coffee has two ingredients, coffee and water, so it’s important that these two main ingredients be high quality. You can’t take bad quality coffee and make it good. So be sure to use high quality coffees like those made with only 100% Arabica beans and also make sure that the water you use is free of visible impurities or any odors. For example, Don Francisco’s Coffees are all made with 100% premium Arabica coffee sourced from the world’s finest growing regions, including Latin America, East Africa and Southeast Asia from countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hawaii, Ethiopia and Indonesia among others.

Coffee is an agricultural product. It’s actually the seed of a cherry that is grown on a bush. It’s mostly picked by hand and goes through a fermentation process to remove the skin. But to develop the flavors and aromas of the coffee for brewing you have to roast it. At our zero-waste-to-landfill roasting and packing facility in LA, we produce more than 40 million pounds of coffee each year from the finest selection of 100% Arabica beans, each meticulously roasted to their peak flavor, and then packaged for consumers, foodservice partners and private-label customers. Attention to quality and consistency is also an important part of this process for us. But from a consumer perspective, your senses of smell and taste are also very important in identifying great coffee. Good coffee should be highly aromatic and smell sweet and floral, and even fruity, taste rich and flavorful with a good balance of strength, body and acidity.

What is the best way to store coffee?

Lisette says: “Keep it fresh and airtight.” This is a common question and many have their own take on it, but the best way to keep coffee fresh is in an airtight container and storing it in the freezer. But, if you’re drinking a few cups daily, you won’t have to worry about your coffee lingering around for too long. It’s also important to buy fresh coffee from the get go – whether at your local store or online retailer.

Another thing that people may not think much about is the role of packaging, which serves to protect the coffee, maintain its quality, and lock in freshness and flavor. Don Francisco’s Coffee bags are flushed with nitrogen and made with a foil barrier film and a built-in patented one-way valve system to limit any exposure to oxygen and keep our coffee fresh! For Don Francisco’s Coffee bags, the valve is that little button-like imprint with the castle on the front of the bag. Some may have noticed these little valves on the front of their coffee bags too. I’m proud to say that my family’s company, F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc. pioneered the introduction of the one-way valve that is still used in every Don Francisco’s Coffee bag today. Pro tip: You can gently squeeze the bag and the valve releases the aroma to smell the coffee before you buy it.”

How do we preserve coffee for future generations?

In recent years there has been a growing interest related to coffee and sustainability and the fragile journey from seed to cup. It’s important to understand what sustainable practices are required to ensure that we never run out of coffee. After all, what is the world without coffee in it?

Lisette says: “If you care about coffee, you have to care about the environment. Caring for the environment is at the cornerstone of our family tradition and 150 coffee legacy – after all, the earth gives us coffee. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, with more than 450 million cups of coffee consumed daily just in the U.S. That’s a lot of coffee to be produced every year, and the only way to get more is by growing it.

As a family and a company, we are committed to great coffee from seed to cup, and beyond – sustainability plays a big role in that. We’ve operated a zero waste to landfill plant for years, but are always looking for ways to innovate to meet the changing needs and preferences of our customers, while looking for new ways to minimize environmental impact.

Our company’s Direct Impact™ Initiative was built on the belief that promoting sustainability practices in our business decisions has a direct impact on the lives our coffee touches. But our business and community initiatives aren’t enough on their own; the consumer is a critical part of this process. This is why we partnered with recycling company TerraCycle to recycle packaging from two F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc. brands, Don Francisco’s Coffee and Café La Llave which includes espresso capsules, single serve coffee pods (K-cup-style), and coffee bags.

Consumers can recycle bags and pods in four easy steps. To participate, register for the Coffee Bag and Pod Recycling Program at, collect your used bags and pods, print prepaid shipping labels, and mail in eligible items directly to TerraCycle for recycling. The Coffee Bag and Pod Recycling Program also gives participants the opportunity to donate to select charitable institutions based on points earned for recycling.

In addition to taking advantage of any recycling program, I encourage coffee lovers to find new ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle all coffee products. Cups, capsules, bags, cans, and coffee grounds can also be upcycled in a variety of ways. Used coffee grounds can be reused to create homemade body scrubs, and even added to the soil on flower beds. In fact, our cans of Don Francisco’s Coffee can be repurposed to make beautiful pots for plants. And, because the cans are made of steel, they can also be recycled through most municipal curbside recycling programs.”

Lisette Gaviña Lopez – Coffee Expert

Millennial Wine Beer & Spirits Competition: Voice of a Generation

Millennial Wine Beer & Spirits Competition: Voice of a Generation

Millennials are taking ownership of the wine and spirits industry by establishing who the leading brands are in the market on their own terms. Created by the enthusiastic and expert connoisseurs Amanda Greenbaum and Olivera Markovic, The Millennial Wine Beer & Spirits Competition was founded on the principle that millennials are the leading trend and tastemakers in almost every industry, especially as the leading consumer group of wine & spirits in general. This demographic is not only holding the key to the buying power, but millennials are also the ones creating the brands on shelves today. The type of shift the industry has seen from this group in the last 5 years alone only proves that a competition like this would make absolute sense.


Now in its third year, the first round of this year’s competition was held at The Four Seasons Westlake Village’s exclusive location, the Prosperous Penny Speakeasy. It was the perfect setting for the panel of influential judges to experience the tastings and determine which spirits brands were deserving of either gold, silver, or bronze medal status in the competition. Judges included Wootak Kim (influencer and founder of BarChemistry), Corey Marshall (food and lifestyle blogger), Amanda Sasser (mixologist and cocktail consultant), and Chris Adams (entrepreneur, investor, and hospitality expert).

When asked why competitions like this are important, Corey Marshall says, “Historically, wine & spirits competitions rely on the judging from old school sommeliers who might not be taking into account the market that is actually buying these products. This competition brings in a voice that speaks to a vast majority of the audience that is drinking alcoholic beverages today.

The notion is further backed by judge Amanda Sasser, who says, “The interesting part of being a judge is that we’re tasting these super relevant drinks that are created for millennials – people that are the same age as me. It gives me as a mixologist insight into what sells for this generation and gives me a better idea of what direction their palettes are in when making a cocktail.


Headlining water sponsor, blk., has been so supportive of this competition and has established what makes being involved so exciting, “First of all, a lot of millennials already know about our product through a number of pop culture verticals, so this is definitely our audience. Additionally, the ingredients in blk. help fight off the effects of alcohol – essentially a hangover cure. So we encourage people to drink blk. before, during, and after they consume alcohol. The basis of combining wine & spirits with millennial perspective made for a perfect match for us.” says Jen Svejda, Marketing & PR Specialist for blk. Beverages.


It’s no doubt that The Millennial Wine Beer & Spirits Competition is rightfully carving its own space in the industry and making itself known as a resource that’s reflective of the generation it represents.


The second phase of the competition will take place on October 6th once again at the Prosperous Penny Speakeasy followed by a dinner at Coin and Candour Restaurant, both located within The Four Seasons Westlake Village.


Be sure to follow The Millennial Wine Beer & Spirits Competition on Instagram and Facebook.

Sketches of Spain Pt. 1

Sketches of Spain Pt. 1

It was a crazy idea.

Travel the length of Spain from the South to the North in a very hot August.

What is clear is that travel in the year 2021 was not like any other year—we’re not just talking the masks, the social distance, the lessened crowds, but the fact that flight took a strange turn, and not for the better.

We leave Los Angeles, on a bright August day. The airport feels usual, there are cars and crowds, kisses and waves, people coming and going. Security is as it always is, and the casual glance at the flight board suddenly registers a delay. We are to head to Dallas and catch a flight to Madrid, all in the span of 45 minutes.

It does take a least half an hour for the plane to leave the ground and touchdown in the sweltering heat of Dallas, Texas. The stewardess erroneously mentioned that people with connecting flights would be given priority—not sure. We slowly make our way out and as it turns out, and head to another terminal. Running through the airport we are accompanied with fellow passengers who are also attempting to make their connection. We arrive at the gate. It is seven minutes after the departure time—they are gone. American Airlines.

Dallas. American provides us with hotel lodging and a voucher for a driver to get us to the near town of Irving, Texas. We drive past the George Bush Turnpike—we really are e in Texas.

A pleasant enough hotel in the middle of nowhere, we make plans for the next day as we will not be leaving for Spain till 5.

Dallas. The first stop is the site of the Kennedy assassination. An event we have seen over and over in films, documentaries, resurrected every November 22. It is a tourist attraction, no not widely visited at this time, be it the heat, the Covid.

There are x’s in the street, we are told put there by conspiracy theorists indicating that Lee Harvey Oswald could not be the lone killer. In Dallas, nearly everyone we ran into called him the “accused assassin”. They have their doubts. It’s a sad, quite a boring little stretch of road that changed history.

Madrid. Spain

Its 6:00 and time for drinks at El Corte Inglés, Spain largest department store with a rooftop experience similar to the one found in Century City.

This experience is wild though. It is prime time, people are happy finally out of their houses, enjoying the view, the cocktails, and the company. It is popular. Find a chair in the outside ring is impossible. People jockey, watchful of movements to din that moment to claim the space. People are casual, leisurely in their drinking and time—it’s simply too pleasant to leave.

Madrid. A city of a thousand dances, mostly flamenco. A thousand hotels, parks and restaurants—it’s a big city. We found great comfort in H10 Villa de la Reina, hotel situated in the middle of the city on the Grand Via. Luxurious and even glamorous the hotel has an old-world charm combined with modern amenities—and, you walk out the door into the hustle and bustle of a Madrid Summer day ready to shop, visit the museums and play.

Art. At the Palacio de Gaviria, Ta 19th-century palace located on Calle Arenal, a stone’s throw from Puerta del Sol, is showing an exhibit about gay life in Madrid in the 1920s. The art is great, the exhibition, which seems thorough does not contain one word in English. No matter, the “international language of love” was being spoken at the Boyberry bar, right behind the El Corte Inglés, which turns out to be, the bohemian Lavapiés neighborhood. A small bar, the Boyberry is what is known as a cruising/darkroom bar. It works like this: buy a drink from a very friendly waiters, and head to the literal dark corners, which are cruising areas, glory holes (don’t ask) and a labyrinth of rooms that lead essentially to nowhere. A staircase takes one down, into the depths where men silently mingle, adjusting to the darkness in search of something. The ads, of course, promise a pride of young lions, full-haired muscle boys, shirtless, eager to engage, Maybe. It is the time of Covid, social distancing and such. No asking for vaccination records in the dark here. We move on.

What does become apparent about Spain and frankly about most of Europe is that they LOVE their cafes. A large portion of time is spent in these outdoor cafés, or terraza. Maybe its the Summer Wind, the ever-rising temperature (it hit 100 degree Fahrenheit quite often) on cobbled stone streets, but the umbrellas are unleashed, the tables set and the people arrive. So many asked if Covid was an issue (in the States) and yes, but the great news is that Spain was diligent in its keeping the masks on, not allowing crowds of large sizes to gather.  Was it different? Did Europe, Spain feel different? Yes, the crowds were not as intense; the ferries between Spain and Morocco was not working; for the most parts hotels were ample (except in the seaside resorts).

We’re in Pioneer Plaza, one of the most famous sights in downtown. Named after the pioneers that founded Dallas in 1841, the plaza, with its bronze sculptures, is one of the most-visited tourist spots in the city.

The bronze, life-like bulls built in the ’90s to honor the cattle drivers who passed through Dallas on the Shawnee Trail in the mid-1800s. No bull.

The Metropolis Building located in Gran Vía and Alcalá Street, 2014

The fantastic exhibit that had so little information that even now you cannot find out much about it.

Smart Ways to Be Prepared for a Family Emergency

Smart Ways to Be Prepared for a Family Emergency

Smart Ways to Be Prepared for a Family Emergency

Life is full of surprises. This is why it is essential to be ready for any type of emergency. Here are some ways to effectively prepare for family emergencies.

1. Consider Your Family’s Unique Needs

When preparing for an emergency, the first step is to familiarize yourself with your surroundings.  Consider what types of weather events are common in your local area. This way, you can tailor your plan to these specific conditions.

Also, think about which family members require special accommodations. Younger children or elderly relatives may need assistance when evacuating your home. Also, take into account your family’s dietary restrictions and medical history.

2. Make a Disaster Supply Kit

Having all your emergency supplies in one place is essential for a quick getaway. You should try to pack only one or two lightweight bags.

Here are some of the main items to include in your bag:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries

Make sure to keep the bag in a spot you will remember. Also, update it periodically as your family needs change.

3. Know Where to Go

If a weather-related emergency occurs, you will need a safe place to go. You want to figure out where that place is ahead of time.

Start with designating spaces inside your home to take shelter. You also want a have a meeting spot outside your house in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire. Make sure you plan where to go if you need to evacuate. You want to have the route mapped out beforehand.

4. Stay Connected

Come up with a family communication plan. This should cover how you will stay updated on emergency alerts. It will also cover how you will stay in contact with other family members.

Know your household members’ emergency numbers. Have these saved on your phone and written down. Also, save the numbers of your local police stations and the nearest hospital.

Make sure to designate someone to be your out-of-area emergency contact. This person should be easier to reach since they won’t be affected by the crisis. Ensure all family members keep in touch with them.

Also, consider letting others know when you have reached a safe location. Here are some ways to notify people of your safety:

  • Update your Facebook status
  • Use Apple’s Find My app
  • Use Google’s Trusted Contacts
  • Use the American Red Cross app

5. Protect Your Pets

Suppose you have pets? Be sure to incorporate them into your plan as well. When deciding where to relocate during an emergency, keep in mind pet-friendly hotels. Also, add food and items for your furry friends inside your supply kit.

Here are some other ways to keep your pets safe:

  • ID your pet
  • Take your pet when you evacuate
  • Contact hotels ahead of time
  • Arrange plans for if you’re not home
  • Close off unsafe areas your pet may try to hide in

6. Write Down and Practice Your Plan

Once you determine where to go and what you will need, write down the plan. Create detailed instructions for every possible situation, such as hurricanes or fires.

Then, have your family review the plans and practice them. Meet up in your designated safe areas and then drive to your evacuation location.

7. Review Your Insurance Plan

Before an emergency occurs, you want to make sure you have the right coverage. Some insurance policies may not protect you from floods or earthquakes. You want to ensure you’re covered for weather emergencies that commonly occur in your area. Also, know how to file a claim with your insurance carrier.

Also, consider investing in life insurance to be further prepared. To buy life insurance, a medical exam is usually part of the process. This helps to verify your current health information.

8. Keep Important Documents Safe

Make sure you have all your essential documents in one place. Put them in a waterproof and fireproof evacuation box. Make sure you keep them in a spot where you will remember and have easy access.

Here are some of the primary documents to consider including in the box:

  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Marriage certificate
  • Passport
  • Driver’s license

9. Update Your Home With Safety Features

Make sure you have a smoke detector and fire extinguisher inside your house. This will make sure it can quickly detect and address a fire emergency. Regularly check the batteries in your smoke detectors to stay prepared.

Here are some other safety features to consider installing:

  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Heat detectors
  • Security system
  • Deadbolt locks
  • Emergency radio

10.  Work With Your Neighbors

During a crisis, you want to lean on your community for support — this is why you want to work out a plan ahead of time. You and your neighbors can share food and other resources.

Here are some tips for working with your community during an emergency:

  • Create a neighborhood communication plan
  • Help those with special needs, such as the elderly or people with disabilities
  • Make a plan for taking care of children if a parent isn’t home
  • Learn the response plans of your children’s schools

Preparing for Emergencies

We can’t predict every situation, especially when it comes to the weather. This is why having a family emergency plan is essential. Your family should be familiar with it and practice it annually. If you feel like you don’t know where to start, consider these tips.

Photo by Emma Bauso from Pexels

Lady Blackbird sings

Lady Blackbird sings


Every once in a while, someone brings to music a voice, a sound, a note or a chord that is different. Enter Lady Blackbird, who back in 2020, brought to the ears of the world, the song, Blackbird. A composition written and sung by Nina Simone, Lady Blackbird delivered a vocal that on first impression, felt like Nina Simone was alive and well.

The LA-based artist, who formally was known as Marley Munroe has re-invented herself, and we like it. That song and now an album, Black Acid Soul, and to our delight she joins Vintage Trouble for a night at the Ford Theater on Thursday, September 16th. For tickets head here. 

If you are fan of jazz, of crazy orchestrations that sound like the soundtrack of a dark, smoky night in a Southside joint, with vocals that may instill a permanent awe of the human voice, join the lady who Gilles Peterson has labelled the “the Grace Jones of Jazz” for a night of music.

From a published biography:

Lady Blackbird didn’t mean to soundtrack a revolution. But last spring, that’s exactly what she did. On 27th May 2020 the Los Angeles-based singer Marley Munroe released her debut single.

“It’s a brave soul indeed who not only tackles one of Nina Simone’s starkest tunes, ‘Blackbird’, but also calls herself Lady Blackbird into the bargain,” noted Blues and Soul at the time. “The original is a stripped-down chant with claps and hand drums, a field hollering protest song that will darken the skies of anyone’s heart. Lady Blackbird has the same urgent grace as Simone and she really takes what is an essentially acapella song and adds her own powerful magic and spirit to
proceedings… There’s an unmatched regality throughout, proving Lady Blackbird is an incisive and adroit singer. She channels the agony and thick despair on the lyrics, too.”

Simone released ‘Blackbird’ in 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights struggle. Almost six decades later, the killing of George Floyd, two days before the release of Lady Blackbird’s version, gave this new rendition a coincidental but no less stark, awful yet uplifting power.

“There was so much emotion there,” Lady Blackbird reflects now of a recording she and her Grammy-nominated producer Chris Seefried had laid down in the legendary Studio B (aka Prince’s room) in LA’s Sunset Sound. Jazz, she agrees, has protest in its DNA.

“Ultimately, I’m in this to entertain, not to be any sort of leader. That’s a huge responsibility that’s so deep within itself. I want to entertain and push people’s buttons. But having that platform, having people willing to listen to you and your music, that’s a responsibility – and one of using that opportunity to share your views.”

As it happens, in actual fact they’d recorded ‘Blackbird’ a few months previously.

“And unfortunately, and disgustingly, it did ring so fucking true last spring,” she continues with a hint of the soulful fierceness that, on stage, makes Lady Blackbird a wonder to behold. “It’s always been one of my favourite songs of hers. I’d listen to ‘Blackbird’ on repeat on my headphones for hours at a time, just feeling it, getting into the bones of it. “I could picture myself singing it onstage – I often do that, close my eyes and imagine me interpreting certain songs on stage. And I thought: this song has to be done.”

Lady Blackbird isn’t the Nina Simone of the Black Lives Matter era (she certainly wouldn’t call herself that). But she is the talent, and the force-of-nature, and the talk-walking personality, that Gilles Peterson has dubbed “the Grace Jones of jazz” – an accolade reinforced by the remixes of recent single ‘Collage’ by jazz and house heavyweights Bruise, Greg Foat and KDA.

And she’s the woman who can flex in other areas, too, as seen in the jaw-dropping version of Tom Petty’s ‘Angel Dream’ that she performed at the virtual Birthday Bash held last October in tribute to what would have been the late musician’s 70th birthday.

We can also just call her the best new voice of 2021, a transcendent performer of songs old and new, an artist whose approach, outlook and vibe is summed up in the title of her stunning forthcoming debut album.

Black Acid Soul.

Minimal yet rich, classic yet timely, the album connects backwards to Miles Davis (his pianist, Deron Johnson, plays Steinway Baby Grand, Mellotron and Casio Synth throughout) and forwards to Pete Tong (he made the Bruise mix of ‘Collage’ his Number Two Essential Selection tune of 2020) and, yes, Victoria Beckham – Matthew Herbert’s remix of second single ‘Beware The Stranger’ soundtracked the designer’s Spring/Summer 2020 Fashion show.

Its 11 tracks have a sound, feeling and attitude that speak of Lady Blackbird’s deep experiences in music, stretching all the way back to infancy.

“I don’t ever remember not singing,” she says, recalling performances in church and at fairs from the age of five. “It’s what I knew how to do, and I don’t want to do anything else.”

By her early teens, Lady Blackbird was travelling to and from Nashville. She was signed to a Christian label but the only music that resulted was some work with rock/rap group DC Talk. After they split, she worked with former member TobyMac, appearing on his first four solo albums and touring together.

“But I realized that that whole Christian world, which my parents tried to place me in, was so goddam far from who I was. I did not want to do Christian music, I didn’t believe anything of what they did, and I quit the tour.”

A wise young soul already at the age of 16, she then found herself “in limbo, because I was in this contract till I was 18”.

Once legally an adult and free, she based herself out of New York while flying to and from sessions in LA. She was working with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, Tricky Stewart and The Heavyweights. A production deal led to a record deal with LA Reid’s Epic. But creative differences led to her parting ways with the label.

So, the deal ended “and it was back to the drawing board and working with different people”. One of those was artistturned-writer-and-producer Seefried, who’d been Grammy-nominated for his work on the debut album by Andra Day (soon to be seen as Billie Holiday in biopic The United States Vs. Billie Holiday).

On meeting Lady Blackbird, he recalls thinking: “Wow, I’m working with the best new vocalists there are – Andra and Lady Blackbird are two of the greatest singers on the planet.”

From Lady Blackbird’s point-of-view, “I fucking loved his shit!” she hoots, relieved to have finally found a musical partner who got her. “Chris listened to me, asking, was I feeling this vibe, or that vibe? He was able to dig inside what I was feeling. Next thing you know, he had some amazing sounds worked out. We really just connected.”

They took their time, working in Seefried’s LA studio, feeling out the bespoke musical path that would work with the fiercely individual performer. Finally, in hitting on the idea of stripping everything back, “we cracked the code”.

“I’d written a song, ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart’, a jazz ballad kind of thing, and asked her to do a vocal,” explains Seefried. “I laid the tune on her – and it’s quite a complicated piece of music – then I played it again. And she goes: ‘OK, I got it.’ And in two takes she nailed it, live. It’s a real natural genius kind of thing to have that kind of musicality intuitively.

That song, when he began playing it to people, stopped them in their tracks. “In fact, when I played it to my therapist, he started crying.”

“When you break a therapist, that’s when you know you’re winning!” Lady Blackbird laughs.

A sad, elegantly simple tune, ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart’ was, too, a pathfinder song, and also the first one they recorded (with, ultimately, on the finished album, a beautiful trumpet solo from the great New Orleans virtuoso, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews). After working on big pop bangers, this was the motherlode. After going all out, they were going all in, deeply in, getting out of the way and letting shine the voice of Lady Blackbird.

For the singer, a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, that approach, however, didn’t – couldn’t – diminish her onstage persona. “I loved my over-the-top costumes and all this elaborate shit on stage. Chris convinced me we could be jazz and still keep that attitude.”

Suffice it to say that, when Seefried played ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart’ to Ross Allen – the British label exec, DJ and crate-digger who’s signed Lady Blackbird to his new imprint Foundation Music – he was astounded.

“I also showed him this picture of her, this radical woman on stage, and it was from the back, wearing this incredible dress and Pattie LaBelle headgear. Ross was like: ‘She sings like that and looks like that? Fucking hell!’”

“Yeah, it was my ass!” she shouts, delighted. “Ass out, always!”

You can hear that personality in ‘Collage’. An instant earworm which she inhabits in multiple colours, it’s Lady Blackbird’s take on the “fucking quirky” James Gang original, a soulful psych-rock deep cut from 1969.

There’s more inspired reinvention on the aching ‘It’ll Never Happen Again’, written by Tim Hardin and which first appeared on the folk singer’s seminal 1966 debut. Forthright as ever, Lady admits, “that was one of the ones I didn’t like at first. It wasn’t boring, I just didn’t know how to give it some power or personality at first. But then I tried it, it was a beautiful session, and it’s ended up one of my favourites on the album. It just sounds magical.”

That spirit of adventure and invention is there, too, on ‘Beware The Stranger’. It’s a rerub of ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’, a rare groove classic recorded by funk/gospel collective Voices of East Harlem in 1973 and co-produced by Curtis Mayfield.

“It’s a version of a version!” she laughs. “We changed the title, the gender, everything! But again, when I first heard it, I just could not hear it. Then Chris cottoned on to the choir piece at the end and suggested we build from there. It was this gothic-type sound, and we rebuilt that choir just using my voice. When we took it to a dark and dangerous place, that’s when I liked it, and when everything else just happened. Taking them down a jazz route was just about interpreting them in a way that could make them fit on a Kind of BlueLove Supreme kind of space”.

Rounding out the album are two killer cuts written by Lady Blackbird and Seefried, ‘Fix It’ and ‘Five Feet Tall’. The former is an elegant piano ballad that sounds like a Great American Songbook standard sung by a woman on the side of the angels. Her ability to nail the song in the studio in minimal takes was clearly something to behold.

“Deron had never met her before the session,” recounts Seefried, “and she was recording ‘Fix It’ in Lady Blackbird mode. And he was like: ‘Damn, she’s like artificial intelligence! She’s like an Avatar! This is unreal!’”

As for ‘Black Acid Soul’, closing the album, it speaks of both the “Jackson Pollock jams” Seefried describes in the studio and the mantric soul evocative of Hot Buttered Soul-era Isaac Hayes. Explaining how the song became the title and then, again, the vibe, Lady Blackbird says: “We used to hashtag #blackacidsoul, as our sub-genre of music. It just encompassed everything we were doing. It cemented all those ideas and genres in this made-up shit!

“And because ‘Blackbird’ is a great start to the album, because it gets dark and violent and goes somewhere spiritual, we wanted to tail the album with another expression of acid soul. So that became the title track at the end.” This is Black Acid Soul, and this is the first crucial album of 2021. Are you ready to fly with Lady Blackbird?

8 Natural Ways to Manage Anxiety

8 Natural Ways to Manage Anxiety

More than 40 million U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder. Yet, less than 37% of them ever receive professional medical treatment. That isn’t to say they don’t receive any treatment at all, though. In fact, many people rely on natural solutions to manage their anxiety and alleviate related symptoms.

If you don’t feel especially inclined to go to therapy or take prescriptions either, these remedies might work for you, too.

1. Breathe Deep

Many people experience chest tightening, shortness of breath and an increased heart rate when battling anxiety. If they aren’t able to manage these symptoms, they could cause a full-blown panic attack. Luckily, deep breathing exercises can help calm you down when you’re facing stressful situations.

When you feel tensions start to rise, take a few deep breaths and focus on lengthening each exhale. Doing so will relax the parasympathetic nervous system and prevent you from hyperventilating. Breathing from your diaphragm or practicing pranayama may also help reduce anxiety and related symptoms.

2. Try Aromatherapy

While you’re focused on your breath, why not inhale some mood-boosting scents? Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to help you relax, reduce anxiety and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. Apply a few drops of oil to your wrists, a lava bead bracelet or your pillow before heading to bed. A diffuser can also aid in dispersing scents throughout your home. Choose lavender, ylang ylang, grapefruit, clary sage or bergamot oil for best results.

3. Meditate

Meditation involves the practice of mindfulness and can effectively alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Find a quiet, comfortable spot to sit, stand or lie down. Then, close your eyes and observe your breath. Notice each thought that pops into your head and allow them to pass without reacting. Eventually, this practice will help you find a sense of calm so your emotions don’t spiral out of control when troubles arise.

4. Plan for the Future

If your worries stem from situations within your control, you could minimize related anxiety by taking initiative and planning ahead. For instance, those who work in hazardous industries like construction might worry about what will happen to their families if something were to happen to them. In this case, purchasing a life insurance policy would give them at least some peace of mind because their family would receive a death benefit in the event of their passing.

Because money — or a lack thereof — is a major stressor for many Americans, you might also make and stick to a tight budget. Doing so will keep your spending habits in check so you can build an emergency fund and a bigger savings account. Experts recommend saving enough to cover three to six months’ worth of basic living expenses to best prepare and minimize finance-related anxieties.

5. Ditch Caffeine

If you suffer from chronic anxiety, most doctors will advise you to stay away from caffeinated beverages like coffee and energy drinks. That’s because caffeine stimulates you flight or fight response and can cause nervousness and jitters. Ultimately, these effects can exacerbate mental health issues like anxiety and even cause panic attacks in people with panic disorder.

Luckily, there are other ways to boost your energy levels. For instance, going for a brisk walk, connecting with nature, taking a power nap and staying hydrated can all help you stay awake and alert. Plus, you won’t experience a sugar or caffeine crash later.

6. Try CBD

Cannabidiol oil — or CBD — has become increasingly popular in recent years, largely thanks to its ability to treat a wide variety of ailments, including anxiety. This hemp-derived oil contains little to no tetrahydrocannabinol, so you won’t experience a high. Instead, you’ll likely notice a sense of calm and clarity that enables you to focus. You can find CBD products in many stores, and it’s often available in tinctures, gummies, chocolate and lotions.

7. Use Herbs

Prescription drugs like beta-blockers and benzodiazepines often come with unwanted side effects, which is why many people turn to herbal remedies to treat anxiety. Chamomile, valerian, lavender, passionflower, kava kava and ashwagandha are just a few of the most effective herbs. If consumed on a regular basis, they can help regulate your stress response and reduce the severity of generalized anxiety disorder relapses. Brew these herbs into teas or use tinctures, creams and tablets to experience their healing powers.

8. Name Your Emotions

Sometimes, the best way to manage your anxiety is to put your feelings into words. Whether you’d rather write everything down in a journal or talk to a friend about your fears, giving voice to your anxieties will make them a little less powerful and overwhelming. Naming your emotions will also help expose irrational fears so you can work through them without letting them overpower you and dictate your reactions.

Knowing When to Ask for Help

Of course, there are only so many natural remedies for anxiety, and they don’t work for everyone. So, if you try a few and don’t see any results, your best bet is to connect with a doctor or therapist. They’ll be able to assess your symptoms, offer a diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Remember, there’s no shame in asking for help and doing so might be more effective than any natural remedy.

Cover Photo by KoolShooters from Pexels

Things To Do and Deals To Take For Labor Day Weekend

Things To Do and Deals To Take For Labor Day Weekend

There’s Plenty To Do

We’ve highlighted a few great Labor Day Weekend sales and deals already this week (which you will also find included below), but we also caught wind of some nifty things to do around SoCal this coming weekend. End of Summer? For some it’s just beginning!

Brief and to the point only works best on a few occasions, and this is one of them. The clock is ticking, and the summer sun is setting! So, stop wasting time here, and get to the good below!

Sales, Deals, and Things to Buy


From this point on, it’s good VYBES only. VYBES offers a wide range of seriously delicious 25mg CBD beverages, plus non-CBD beverages.

Labor Day Weekend is just around the corner, and this functional wellness brand, wants to celebrate with you! From August 30 to September 10, get stocked up using code TRYVYBES and receive 20% off your entire order!


Big names, big things. Cann is creating quite the buzz, with celebs and influencers raving about the CBD cocktails.
BOGO Sale: use the code VIPBOGO for 50% off orders over $99. You can also use this BOGO deal to stock up on Cann’s UNSPIKED beverages — offering Cann’s same classic flavor profiles — minus the cannabis.


SunDaze reimagines the classic social drink, breaking citrus-based cocktails out of the brunch category once and for all. Each cocktail contains 100% of your daily dose of Vitamin C, antioxidants and probiotics and is also gluten-free, vegan and has no added sugars.

SunDaze is available for purchase at all PinkDot & Total Wine locations across LA county and via DTC online, and retails at just $3.99/can!


Here’s a new delicious, easy and enjoyable way to take the everyday vitamins and nutrition you need! NuStrips are engineered to dissolve quickly on your tongue and drive faster absorption, enhanced bioavailability, peak performance and pack the same active nutrients as 2-3 pills or gummies.

The innovative product currently boasts 5 Skus: Sleep, Immunity, Energy, Beauty, and MultiVitamin. Each package has 30 strips and is priced at $36.50. Each product is non-GMO, allergen-free and gluten-free and adheres to the strictest manufacturing standards(USFDA, Health Canada & WHO-GMP).

Sale: 20% off orders over $50

Skylight Calendar

Our brains have a lot on their plate, and quite frankly, in this day and age, we should give them a bit of a break.

Skylight is here to do just that, with a sleek, modern, and functional frame that shows not only your family’s calendar of events synced straight from your dedicated calendar accounts – but also holds all your photos, household schedules, lists, to-do’s and beyond. Equipped with on-screen and in-app editing, color coding and updating events is always at your fingertips. Are their plans on the calendar for this Labor Day weekend? You bet. Through September 6, customers can use code SKYLIGHTCAL to get $20 off!


This as-seen-on-Shark-Tank item boasts incredible benefits for spines 

All33 created the perfect office chair for back pain, preventing the user from slouching, effectively moving all 33 vertebrae within the spine.

Deal: From September 2-7th, All33 is giving $150 off their Backstrong C1 chair, with code LOVE150.

HIDE, TatBrow, & Nailboo

Eyebrows, cosmetics, and nails are basically everything these days. It’s easier than ever to look your best, whether you hire a team for it or do it yourself.  HIDE, TatBrow, and NailBoo are three innovative companies banding together for a Labor Day sale where you can get 20% off each brand for the weekend!

Dr. Squatch

Dr. Squatch, the men’s personal care brand that offers all-natural cold-process bar soaps, deodorants, hair care, beard care, and more, will be taking part in the Labor Day sale fun this year!

We can vouch for their amazing scents, and especially the longevity of their deodorants, which provide B.O. protection for 2 to 3 days!

Sale25% off site-wide using code “LABOR25”. The deal lasts all LDW, September 3rd-September 6th.



Elite furniture for the contemporary home, anyone? Modloft believes in a modern world supported by beautiful and intentional design. Without any compromise on quality, their goal is to make luxurious furniture more attainable and accessible.

Plus, with the housing market still sizzling from a scorching Spring and Summer, there are probably a ton of homeowners out there who are looking for some new furniture.

Modloft’s Labor Day Living Room Event is live until September 6, and customers can get up to 25% off Modloft’s most coveted designs in living room; no code necessary with free shipping on all orders.


Kori Krill Oil is the must-have vitamin for anyone looking for multiple health + wellness benefits in one easy supplement. Krill oil is the ocean’s superior Omega source compared to fish oil, delivering Omega-3s in their most natural form for superior absorption and offering maximum heart, brain, joint, eye, skin, and immunity benefits. Additionally, Krill is a good source of choline, which supports brain and nervous system health. The best part? No fishy aftertaste! Kori has zero additives and is 100 percent pure Krill oil.

Kori Krill Oil is critically acclaimed for its innovative sustainability efforts. The supplements are made in the U.S. with wild caught Antarctic krill that is processed immediately on boats to preserve freshness. In fact, each bottle can be traced to where it was originally caught and the operations behind Kori Krill Oil have earned the highest sustainability certifications 6 years running.

Sale: Through September 6, get 15 percent off Kori Krill Oil on Amazon (Sale price ranges from $17.21-$25.49)

Things To Do

Orbitz: Take a Solo

While Summer 2021 already spawned a new travel trend, revenge travel, as vacationers plan their Labor Day trips to end the season, they’re not necessarily booking a ticket for two. According to Orbitz, single roundtrip tickets are up 200% or more, for the holiday weekend compared to 2020. U.S. cities including NYC, Chicago, Boston and Seattle are topping the list for solo travelers, as many look for responsible leisure travel options to end the summer. 

“There are a lot of reasons why solo travel might be more popular right now, the main one being that it’s easier to manage and plan travel for one versus a group while navigating Covid protocols,” says Mel Dohmen, Senior Brand Manager at Orbitz. Demand to go to Canada – which recently reopened to vaccinated US travelers – BBQ-famous cities, and beaches are also trending up over the long weekend. Below, are some solo trends and top destinations for the end of summer and fall from Orbitz.

Solo travel trends include: 

  • August through October is usually the biggest time for solo travelers

  • Beaches and international beaches are predicted to be the most popular destinations for the back half of 2021

  • Top vacation destinations in the South are also trending such as Savannah, Charleston, and Nashville, along with another notable beach destination: Hawaii

Top Solo Destinations:

  • Anchorage, Alaska 

  • San Jose, California 

  • San Francisco, California

  • Los Angeles, California  

  • Orange County, California 

  • Hartford, Connecticut 

  • Honolulu, Hawaii  

  • Chicago, Illinois 

  • Montego Bay, Jamaica 

  • Boston, Massachusetts

  • Kansas City, Missouri  

  • New York, New York  

  • Charleston, South Carolina 

  • Nashville, Tennessee   

  • Richmond, Virginia

  • Seattle, Washington  

  • Ontario, Canada

  • Toronto, Canada  

Join The Habit Burger Grill and Tarantula Hill Brewing to Celebrate Their New Burger-Inspired Beer

Nothing pairs better than burgers and brews, which is why The Habit Burger Grill and Tarantula Hill Brewing have teamed up to create a beer inspired by The Habit’s signature Charburgers. To celebrate the launch of the Habit Burger Grill Hazy IPA, the two iconic local California brands are hosting a party at Tarantula Hill Brewing on Saturday, September 4 from 3-6pm.

The Habit’s catering trucks will be on site offering free Charburgers and fries (for the first 250 guests), and Tarantula will be debuting the new Habit Hazy IPA. The beer retails for $8 per can, and has notes of oats, citrus, and stone fruit, making it the perfect warm-weather sip to complement a freshly chargrilled burger from The Habit!

When: September 4, from 3-6 p.m.
Where: 244 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

Last Chance for Poolside Cocktails at The Spare Room…Somewhere Else Pop Up

The ephemeral, al fresco cocktail experience from the award-winning gaming parlour and cocktail lounge – The Spare Room – at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel will be toasting its last cocktail and bocce game of the season as Hospitality duo Med Abrous and Marc Rose of Call Mom gear up to reopen The Spare Room later this fall.

Nestled behind the hotel’s iconic David Hockney-painted pool, the intimate outdoor oasis boasts a bocce court and custom single-use games (think Battleship, Mad Libs, M.A.S.H.) to play while you’re enjoying over-the-top delicious cocktails like the frozen Cabana Club with Appleton Rum, Amontillado sherry, coconut cream & coconut water, cinnamon and absinthe and the 40 Day Dream with Bulldog Gin, white wine, tarragon pineapple cordial, lime, Thai basil and coconut ice cubes alongside seasonal Italian-inspired small plates like freshly shucked Hog Island Oysters, burrata with apricot agrodolce and heirloom tomato panzanella.

The Spare Room has remained a top-tier destination in Hollywood for over a decade as an intimate meeting place for socializing over innovative cocktails and nostalgic games complete with vintage bowling lanes; the bar was recently named the “Best American Hotel Bar” by the Spirited Awards (Tales of the Cocktail).

Wed, Thurs, Sun 6pm-Midnight

Friday and Saturday 6pm-2am
Reservations via Resy

Secure Tickets For LA’s Haunted Hayride

Ghouls, ghosts and monsters… Halloween is almost here! Opening on September 24th, Haunted Hayride will feature a series of sinister attractions, mazes and more with trick-or-treating available for the whole family!

Stepping into 1985, guests can expect the unexpected in Midnight Falls with various attractions celebrating the 13th Annual Halloween Festival including:

  • A Hayride stroll through the town’s foothills, no doubt encountering the creepy creatures and witches lingering through the night. 

  • A Trick or Treat Maze with monsters and ghouls lurking in the shadows waiting to give a fright.

  • The Midnight Mortuary Maze offering tours for anyone brave enough to walk the property, hopefully escaping the sinister funeral home before their expected demise.

Presale tickets are available now through September 8th with a discounted rate of $24.99. General ticket sales begin 9/8 at noon local time at regular price ($34.99).

Have Beer, Wine, and Cocktails at Pasadena’s NY-Style U Street Pizza

Restaurateur Marie Petulla and Executive Chef Chris Keyser of Union in Pasadena opened sister restaurant U Street Pizza this past spring and their NYC by way of California pies have entered the top tier of the pizza echelons in LA. They are now offering pizza-friendly cocktails and wine and West Coast beers to complement the menu of crispy, chewy pies, salads, seasonal sides and dessert. 

The U Street Pizza team collaborated with beverage consultant and Future Gin co-founder Mary Bartlett on a cocktail list highlighting California-based, woman-owned and/or BIPOC producers resulting in easygoing yet complex drinks that pair perfectly with a clam pie and a caesar salad as they do risotto rice pudding. 

Start out with the sunny and sessionable Free Parking with fresh pressed watermelon juice, orange wine and pisco and move on to the Oaxacan Summer featuring mezcal, pamplemousse, Amaro Angeleno and lemon, and end with the Caffee 1749 with Appleton Estate Rum, maple syrup, Luxardo Maraschino, Fernet Branca, chocolate bitters and cold brew coffee. In a true ode to pizza and Los Angeles, Mary and the team created the not-to-be-missed Pizzalada: a take on the Michelada using U Street’s pizza sauce and Madewest Brewing Co.’s Ventura Light Domestic Lager along with housemade fresno hot sauce,  fresh pineapple juice and coconut aminos.

(Photo Credit: Sydney Yorkshire)

The approachable wine list curated by U Street’s Dave Castagnetti skews small, natural Italian producers with cameos from California makers featuring light crisp white, low-tannin and chilled reds and easy-drinking bubbles, rose + orange selections offering a low stakes sense of discovery.

U Street’s Logan Bates selected a well-rounded list of rotating beers celebrating California breweries like Madewest Brewing Co. (Ventura, CA), Smog City Brewing Co. (Torrance), Pizza Port Brewery (Carlsbad), Beachwood Brewing Co. (Garden Grove), Modern Times (San Diego) and Crown & Hops (Santa Rosa) and Seattle’s Fremont Brewing Company. 

Coming soon: cocktails, beer and wine available for pick-up and delivery. 

U Street Pizza is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4pm-9pm . Reservations via Resy and pick-up via Toast. Delivery available through Postmates and Uber Eats

New Atlas of American Style

New Atlas of American Style

From the forthcoming book with Vogue entitled THE UNITED STATES OF FASHION: A NEW ATLAS OF AMERICAN STYLE which will  be publishied on September 7th.


An expanded look at Vogue’s February 2021 issue which launched their project, this book celebrates creators, artisans, and visionaries across the country, paying tribute to the democratization of American fashion. Organized by region and providing additional context for the designers and craftspeople featured, the book offers a wealth of new material and is presented in an entirely different way from the printed magazine. Including an introductory essay by Anna Wintour, the book also features never-before-seen photographs and anecdotes, not published in the pages of Vogue, from fashion designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte; Jeremy Scott, and Libertine; photographers Alex Webb and June Canedo; and craftspeople Ariana Boussard-Reifel and Ataumbi Metals, to name a few. The book also contains texts by esteemed writers, from Louise Erdrich’s words on Native American fashion and music editor Suzy Exposito’s account of being goth in Miami, to new ways of creating sustainable, recycled fashion.

The editors of Vogue, the ultimate authority on fashion, document the post-COVID changes happening across the fashion landscape in America. Celebrating creators, artisans, and visionaries across the country, the book pays tribute to the democratization of American fashion and the creativity and artisanship that is no longer confined to the runways of New York and Los Angeles.

FASHION HAS LONG mythologized the American West, forging certain staples—gauzy dresses, cowboy boots—from its history and lore. Today, however, a growing number of designers are reworking those old codes and points of reference, finding inspiration in sources as wonderfully varied as Montana and New Mexico’s Indigenous cultures, Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the surf in Southern California. If they have anything in common, it’s a shared spirit of free-dom and adventure, one articulated by The Elder Statesman’s Greg Chait. “We are about being free-spirited—that’s what we have in Los Angeles,” he says. “Fashion isn’t L.A.’s first language, but creativity is.”