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The Tax Bill Broken Down with A Focus on Real Estate

The final GOP tax bill is complex and complicated. There’s a lot to it, and it’s hard to decode. With that in mind, we wanted to offer some insight. We wanted to create a sort of primer for the tax bill.

We conducted research, culled essential facts, and broke down the information for you. We begin our analysis with a basic overview to provide some context. We then highlight simple facts that everyone should be aware of. We round this piece out with a focus on points of interest and concern for the real estate market.

We leave you with some closing thoughts, and tools and resources to help you move forward and plan ahead.

Basic Overview:

The bill is mainly a massive corporate tax cut which drops the rate from 35% to 21% (that’s the largest and most significant cut in the bill). That cut and most of the corporate tax cuts are permanent. Individuals also get an across-the-board cut, albeit relatively small, but those cuts expire after 2025.

You will most likely get a tax cut in 2018. The new law lowers rates across all seven tax brackets, but lowers the threshold for each bracket. This is for taxpayers who file individually and jointly.

Because the individual cuts expire on December 31, 2025, we face another potential “fiscal cliff.” Republicans have said they intend and expect to extend these tax breaks when the time comes.

[Reference: Curbed]

And that is as close as close as we get to editorializing. As stated, the bill is complex, it is polarizing, and has myriad ramifications. We believe the best approach is to present you with unadulterated facts and our sources. We encourage you to continue your own research, as the nuances and complexities of this bill mean its impacts will be varied.

So let’s begin to break it down.

Some Simple Facts:

The below insights were collected and organized to give you a bird’s eye view of the tax bill.

  • The new tax bill was signed into law at the end of December and is in effect as of the beginning of 2018. A Fortune.com piece by John Patrick Pullen states, “when you file your 2017 taxes in April, you’ll already be getting some benefits like lower tax withholding, but other perks won’t show until you file your tax return in April 2019.” We recommend reviewing the Fortune.com piece for quick advice on getting your finances ready to take advantage of the new tax plan.
  • Income tax brackets have been changed under the new law, but there are still seven tax brackets with the top bracket changing to 37% down from 39.6% for 2017. Income ranges, however, have been changed.
  • The personal exemption has been eliminated. To offset this, the standard deduction has been increased. In 2017, the standard deduction for a single taxpayer is $6,500, plus one personal exemption of $4,150 per taxpayer and dependent. The new law, which eliminates the personal exemption, gives us a larger standard deduction for 2018: $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for joint filers.

[Reference: Business Insider]

  • The bill doubles the exemption amount for estate taxes from $5 million to $10 million ($11.2 million when indexed for inflation).
  • The largest tax cut in the bill is for corporations and it is permanent (the 35% to 21% rate drop), as are other corporate tax changes.
  • Changes affecting individual and joint taxpayers expire after 2025.

[Reference: New York Times]

Points of Interest and Concern for Real Estate

Points of Interest:

The bill introduces concepts that can act as a boon to property owners. Specifically, taxes have been lowered for pass-through businesses. Pass-through businesses — partnerships, S-corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs) — are corporate entities that allow business income to “pass-through” to the owner, thereby paying a personal income rate, as opposed to a business rate.

The final bill also contains various deductions and breaks that would help real estate developers. According to a Washington Post analysis, tax reform would allow developers to deduct interest expenses for a variety of real estate activities. These activities include construction, management, and property development.

[Reference: Curbed]

Another provision would maintain the Like-Kind Exchange, also known as a 1031 Exchange. This is an exemption that enables property owners to sell at a large capital gain but defer any tax as long as they use the proceeds to buy some other property, but it must be a similar type of property, i.e. “like-kind.”

[Reference: New York Times]

A Bisnow piece written by Lara O’Keefe details 7 key items in the tax bill that could positively affect the real estate industry. The Like-Kind Exchange is among those items.

Points of Concern:

State and local tax deductions (SALT) have been capped at $10,000. Taxpayers can currently deduct what they pay in state and local property, income, and sales taxes from their federal returns.

But the new law caps these deductions — which can be any combination of property, income, and sales taxes — at $10,000.

If you live in a coastal city with high local and state taxes — and particularly if you own a home on which you pay property taxes — this could have a huge impact on your final tax bill, even with the lower rates and doubled standard deduction.

The cap on mortgage-interest deduction (MID) is down to $750,000 from the $1 million previously allowed.

The new cap doesn’t apply to existing mortgages, only new ones. And because of the doubled standard deduction, this may not affect you if you forgo itemizing. A Zillow study estimated that roughly 44 percent of U.S. homes are worth enough for it to make sense for a homeowner to itemize and take the MID under current law. Taking into account the new standard deduction, SALT changes, and MID cap into account, that number drops to 14.4 percent under the new law.

Moody’s Analytics estimates that home prices will drop 4% nationwide compared to projections without the new tax law.

[Reference: Curbed]

A Forbes piece echoed these concerns with an article dedicated to how The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is warning that the bill will cause housing prices to drop.

Closing Thoughts

As we said in the beginning, use this as a jumping off point. It is essential that you conduct your own research. Consult your financial advisor. Be prepared to take advantage of this bill in the ways you can, but be cautious, be wary, and plan for the future. You will find tools and resources below to help you get an understanding of what may lie ahead for you and your family.

 

Tools and Resources:

Tax Bill Calculators

National Association of Realtors

Venice Beach Bungalow - Image Courtesy of Gil Valenzuela

An Introduction to Gil Valenzuela – Interior Designer & World Traveler

As realtors, we have a special appreciation and reverence for the people who are able to breathe life into a space. It isn’t easy to walk into an empty room and know exactly what needs to be done to make it sing.

Enter: Gil Valenzuela — world traveler, bon vivant, aesthete, and interior designer (luckily for all of us). Valenzuela imbues his work with the essence of his clients and his world travels. His design language can be at once rustic and undeniably refined.

Gil Valenzuela’s “passion and flair for design” comes from “an international upbringing spanning three continents.” Valenzuela was born in London to Cuban parents and was raised in Milan and Havana. He has also lived in Barcelona, Colombia, Miami, San Francisco, and now Los Angeles. And we cannot begin to tell you how proud we are to count him as a fellow Angeleno. Valenzuela received his formal training at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and earned his degree with an emphasis on interior design.

He owned and operated a contracting and design firm for nearly ten years before entering the next stage of his career. Valenzuela now exclusively handles commercial and residential interior design contracts. But, in addition to his interior design services, clients can now enjoy an “à la carte” experience in the form of his custom furnishings. Furniture, lighting, and built-in cabinetry are some of the custom home furnishings available to clients who are looking to for either a small taste or a finishing touch by Gil Valenzuela.

Gil Valenzuela’s work can be seen as a mix of contemporary, and classical design elements from around the world filtered through his unique vision. Valenzuela balances the vintage and the modern, with his clients’ needs and tastes firmly at the center of that equation.

From houses, to apartment complexes, to commercial locations — Valenzuela has blessed countless spaces with his talent. Indeed, Valenzuela’s design work can be executed on the boutique level or scaled up to grander heights.

Let’s look into what makes Gil Valenzuela’s work so compelling.

Hoawaa House Maui

Hoawaa House Maui - Image Courtesy of Gil Valenzuela

Hoawaa House Maui – Image Courtesy of Gil Valenzuela

One of Gil Valenzuela’s most endearing qualities is his sense of playfulness. His choices demonstrate a levity and an appreciation for character-driven and deeply specific pieces. E.g., Valenzuela’s interior design work for the Hoawaa House Maui. We love the way Valenzuela tempers the room’s modern, sleek, and sophisticated design with the bright red wireframe chair with vintage Hawaiian print. It’s a subtle and tasteful nod to the vintage “Blue Hawaii” style without feeling like a tiki bar. It’s a splash of color and character that adds an essential accent to an unassumingly stately space.

Glencairn Residence

Glencairn Residence - Image Courtesy of Gil Valenzuela

Glencairn Residence – Image Courtesy of Gil Valenzuela

Gil Valenzuela’s work for the Glencairn Residence is another great example of his unique flair for melding styles within larger motifs. The above images show off Valenzuela’s mastery of geometry and expert’s sense of space. The image on the left shows a strong and stark use of negative space that further accentuates Valenzuela’s signature splashes of color. It’s thoroughly modern without taking itself too seriously. The image on the right, from the same home, has a totally different character. While similarly spartan, this room is filled in comparison to the image on the left. That gives it a warm, cozy, and inviting nature that doesn’t come at the cost of sophistication. Valenzuela’s sense of balance within a space is on full display here; with sparing and discerning choices he is able to “fill” a room with character, but not clutter.

The below image, also from the Glencairn Residence, is an example of Valenzuela’s ability to find wide yet complementary themes within a larger idea. We see another study of geometry and space, this time exploring the evocative power of texture. Note how the stone and brick of the fireplace harmonize with the different wooden textures of the shelving.

Glencairn Residence - Image Courtesy of Gil Valenzuela

Glencairn Residence – Image Courtesy of Gil Valenzuela

 

Los Feliz Pool House

Los Feliz Pool House - Image Courtesy of Gil Valenzuela

Los Feliz Pool House – Image Courtesy of Gil Valenzuela

Gil Valenzuela’s work for this Los Feliz Pool House shows off the effortless brilliance of a master-of-his-craft having fun with his inspiration. We see a classical artistic representation of repetition, achieved with truly mixed media. A strong narrative thread celebrating nature runs from the outside of the home through the inside. This choice honors and enhances the airy and open layout of the property, topping off the pool house experience.

If it isn’t clear by now, we are massive fans of Gil Valenzuela. He is a virtuoso who enjoys and revels in what he does for a living. What more could you ask for in your interior designer?

You can visit Gil Valenzuela online at his website, Facebook Page, and Instagram Page.

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The 2017 Holiday Survival Guide

The holidays are hard. They are absolutely wonderful, glorious, and beautiful times, but they are also really hard. There are no two ways around that fact. Seasonal and complex mores we need to consider emerge. For example: holiday parties — which ones do you go to? How do you dress for them? How much fun is too much fun at your office party? Should you go to the post-office-party-party? Maybe! But maybe you should definitely skip the post-post-office-party-party — we’re not sure how wild you actually want to get with Steve from HR. But we’re not judging!

We’re merely here to help.

We rolled up our sleeves, did some research, asked some big questions, and collected data to create our 2017 Holiday Survival Guide! We have separated our findings into four neat and tidy categories:

  • Holiday Party Tips
  • Holiday Tipping Tips
  • Holiday Gift Giving Tips
  • Holiday Mindfulness Tips

So let’s not wait any longer. Let’s dig into the nitty-gritty details of how to get through the 2017 holiday season with your sanity totally intact.

Holiday Party Tips

Image Courtesy of Annca Photography.

Image Courtesy of Annca Photography.

If You’re Attending

Going to a party isn’t the hardest thing in the world. But there are a few key-points we want to address.

Be Careful with the Booze

This advice stands for all parties — no matter where, when, or with whom you are partying. It’s easy to be swept up with the spirit of the holidays and get a bit carried away. But ease up on the gas. You’ll feel more in control and charming if you aren’t inebriated (that’s pretty close to scientific fact). And in addition to not making a fool of yourself, you’ll be in less pain the next morning — and chances are you’ll have an easier time committing to your workouts and other objectively healthy routines.

To that point: Water is your friend. Drink a full glass of water after every drink. This won’t “undo” each drink, but it will provide your body with a sort of insurance policy for the night and the next morning. Alcohol dehydrates you. It punishes your body. Water, the essence of life, rehydrates and replenishes your body — allowing you to recuperate.

Furthermore, don’t go to this party on an empty stomach. Eat something that won’t weigh you down, but will help you stand up to the night of drinking ahead of you.

If You’re Hosting

Ok. Don’t worry. We’re going to make this easy. In fact, we’re not even going to get nuanced with this, we’re going to be really simple.

  • Stick to simple/minimalist decorations.
  • Serve small-plate items for food.
  • Come up with a “signature” drink.

You don’t have to go over the top with your holiday decorations. It’s 2017 and we’re living in the future. Minimalism is in, it is cool, and (frankly) it can be quite simple. We love this quaint and homey yet thoroughly modern holiday presentation provided to the New York Times by Cal Bingham for the Bouqs Company. It shows off a very authentic and understated approach to holiday decorations.

Image Courtesy of Cal Bingham for the Bouqs Company via The New York Times.

Image Courtesy of Cal Bingham for the Bouqs Company via The New York Times.

Take a tip from local favorite A.O.C. and serve small plates. And you don’t even need to really cook. Here’s some insight directly from a wonderful neighborhood holiday party I attended just the other night: take a wheel of brie, throw it on the grill, cook it for a bit, and serve hot with bread and crackers. That’s an example of a beautifully rustic looking dish that took minimal effort, and (most importantly) tastes great.

Image Courtesy of A.O.C. Restaurant & Wine Bar.

Image Courtesy of A.O.C. Restaurant & Wine Bar.

Wine is always a rather safe bet for social gatherings. But aside from a few wine selections, you may want to keep things simple, and not have to have every type of liquor on hand. This is why we suggest you come up with a “signature drink” for the party that you can make in large batches. The party I attended served a Swedish specialty called glögg. It’s a beautiful, sweet, spicy, and lightly fruity mulled wine that incorporates vodka and at least one day to a week of infusing flavors. Everyone at that party only enjoys my neighbor’s glögg once a year at this very party. It’s something we all look forward to and deeply appreciate. And, frankly, it’s easier to pull off than asking each guest what their favorite drink is, and trying to accommodate that.

Tips on Saying Thank You

First things first: always say thank you. Always. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look a bit deeper into how to say thanks.

Handwritten or Emailed?

The Emily Post Institute tells us to always send a handwritten note after a first-time meeting or an important party. That’s great advice and definitely sets a high standard. But, that’s not always so practical.

We’re pretty confident in saying an e-mail “thank you” note is 100% appropriate, nearly, 100% of the time.

So when might you want to offer a handwritten thank you? We say you should always send a handwritten thank you note when you are given a gift from a client, vendor, associate, or close-acquaintance who isn’t quite your best friend. Your best friend won’t question your lack of a thank you note. A sincere and warm “thank you” perhaps followed by a hug is all your bestie needs.

There is one thing The Emily Post Institute says on this matter that we have to fully endorse: The more expensive the entertainment, the more the need for a handwritten note.

Holiday Tipping Tips

This can be tricky. We, once again, are going back to the tried-and-true advice of the good old Emily Post Institute. This time of year is when we say thank you to those who provide us year-round services. And remember: holiday tipping is truly about saying thank you — and there’s a way to do it without blowing through your budget.

Things to Consider

Your budget: Don’t ever feel the pressure to go beyond your personal budget. This is about saying thank you — not about doing damage to your own finances.
The quality and frequency of the service you receive.
Your relationship with the service provider.
Location: Tipping averages tend to be higher in larger cities.
Length of service: The number of years you’ve been using the service.
Regional customs.
Type of establishment: Is it deluxe or moderate?
When in doubt, ask: Call the front desk and ask what is accepted by the company, and typical for what they see from other customers.
The Emily Post Institute says: “Common sense, specific circumstances and holiday spirit should always be your guide.”

Tipping Guide

In the concise spirit of that advice we’re going to simplify the various guides we referenced.

For the most part (whether it’s a personal trainer, barber/hair-stylist, once-a-week-housekeeper, massage therapist, and similar service providers) you can tip them up to the price of one full-usual session.

Au pairs, live-in nannies/housekeepers, daycare providers, and live-in healthcare specialists (service providers who are close to you and your family) can either be given “actual gifts” or you can give them a cash gift. Depending on the level of your personal/live-in healthcare specialist, you may want to consider giving one week to one month’s worth of pay.

$10-$50 (depending on the level of service and your judgment) is appropriate for doormen, elevator attendants, garage attendants, and other similar positions.

Holiday Gift Giving Tips

Image Courtesy of DiEtte Henderson.

Image Courtesy of DiEtte Henderson.

If you’re giving gifts in the office, of your own volition and not due to a Secret-Santa effort, give your gifts in private. Chances are you haven’t bought gifts for your entire office, so don’t let people feel left out. In fact, making the gift-giving a more private moment can actually enhance the power of that moment — deepening your bond with the recipient.

Giving a gift to a boss or supervisor should be a team effort.

That strategy is cost-effective, and you don’t want to aggravate office politics. Keep everyone involved, as long as they want to be. Set a deadline, let your colleagues know, collect their contributions, procure the gift, and make the gifting process a shared and communal event.

When attending a purely social party a bottle of wine, or something bubblier, is always great for a host or hostess. Now back to the office party, a bottle of booze is maybe a tad less surefire for corporate gifting. Do some sleuthing and figure out a simple delicacy/edible-indulgence that could be appropriate when a bottle of booze isn’t so appropriate.

If you do draw a name in a Secret-Santa situation, keep it simple: get a gift certificate to a place you know your recipient loves.

And when it comes to a gift for a loved one… well, that one you’re going to need to figure out on your own. We’re sorry. We don’t know what Aunt Kate wants for Christmas and we’d rather not mislead you. Take this task as an opportunity to slyly and subtly get to know your loved ones a bit better.

Think about what your recipient loves. Consider what you want to do for them:

  • Help them upgrade an-often-used home appliance.
  • Consider any significant life changes that could use an accessory of some kind. Did they recently move? What’s something essential your recipient is missing in the new home?
  • Think about the things you know they love: what are their favorite activities and favorite foods?
  • Is there something you can get them to help make a regular activity/responsibility/occurrence in their life easier to manage?
  • Do something with them. Get concert tickets or fund a trip to their favorite museum.

Holiday Mindfulness and Wellness Tips

We’re ending this Holiday Survival Guide with some insight on how to keep your calm and love yourself this holiday season. The holidays are beautiful and wondrous times, but they can also be stormy and stressful as well. In fact, most of us are stressed all the time — even when we’re having a great time. There are different kinds of stress, after all, and it’s important to always be mindful, check in with yourself, and take stock of what kind of stress you’re feeling and how you’re dealing with it.

Make mindfulness a priority. Don’t skip your usual workout. I know, easier said than done. Believe me, I know. It’s especially hard during the holidays.

Perhaps the top of your month is overloaded with knocking out work before you take a week or so off, and other general preparations for the holidays. That can impact the “normal” habitual “good things” you do for yourself. Make an effort to not let yourself run ragged, and to keep up with the routines that make you happy. That is vital to your wellbeing.

Let yourself love yourself and get rid of guilt. What do we mean by that? Give yourself leeway and don’t beat yourself up for enjoying food over the holidays. Plain and simple — whether you’ve kept up with your workout routines or not. We’re not saying to sacrifice your standards, but indulge a bit and have fun. This is a once a year occurrence, and we only live once. Don’t deprive yourself of enjoying this time of year.

But be smart. Don’t starve yourself all day before heading to any sort of gathering with food. That logic doesn’t work. Starving yourself leaves your stomach unable to gracefully and easily handle larger portions of food. You’ll most likely feel some combination of indigestion and pain. You don’t want that. Eat light proteins with some fruits and vegetables throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels normal.

Plan ahead. Take some time to do a little work here and there, so you don’t find yourself stressing later on.

Create a list check it once, twice, figure out who’s naughty and nice… wait that’s not right. Sorry — really sorry. Got my blogs confused for a second there.

Ahem, anyway, create a list of what you need to get done and dedicate the appropriate time to it. And, this is key, don’t load up one day with a ton of action items.

We rarely give ourselves the time we need — planning takes energy. But we guarantee you, spending some time and energy planning out your week (ideally, your month) will save you more time and energy in the long run. And don’t stress if things don’t go according to plan — they rarely do. But having a plan means you have a template to prioritize and shift things around when you have to.

Most importantly: Give yourself a silent night or two, or three, or four even. Dedicate a few nights to giving yourself a quiet and calm experience. Just relax and check in with yourself.

Closing Thoughts

We loved preparing this Holiday Survival Guide for you. We’re passionate about seamless solutions. And just like we can help you find your dream-home in stress-free fashion, we wanted to help make your holidays magical, in equally stress-free fashion.

Remember to check in with yourself, and do what you need to so you can keep your calm. The holidays can be tricky, but they don’t have to be. Going into responsibilities and activities with a clear, confident, and healthy mindset will inform your behavior. And hey, social anxiety is very real. A party can be sort of nerve-racking at times. But remember, your mind is powerful. Let a party, or any social gathering, be an opportunity to meet new people, make new connections, and share ideas. That’s one example of a positive and healthy mindset that will enhance your experience. Who knows, you may walk in the door carrying an instant and undeniable sense of charm about you — just from having a happy, calm, and confident mindset.

From all of us at Juliette Hohnen & Associates: Thank you for sharing your time with us. Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives. We cherish community — that’s why we’re realtors.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday and a very happy new year. We’ll be in touch soon!

See you in 2018!

pexels-photo-688017

Our Holiday Gift Guide for 2017

The holidays are here, and we couldn’t be happier. We firmly believe that it is vital to spread and show love all year-round, but there’s something about this time of year that makes sharing your love with others even more magical. But finding the perfect gift for that special someone isn’t always so easy. In fact, it can be really hard. Trust us, we know. Whether it’s due to work, general life responsibilities, or your friends and family just plain old not knowing what they want… shopping for others can be a challenge.

That’s why we’ve assembled this handy Holiday Gift Guide. We spent the time you don’t have searching the streets (and the Internet) to find truly unique and exciting options for your 2017 gift-giving duties. These gifts range from decadently delicious, to calming and nurturing, to luxuriously thrilling. So let’s get started!

Bettina Duncan

Diamond Bead on Mix Opal, Pyrite, and Blue Jade Necklace

Diamond Bead on Mix Opal, Pyrite, and Blue Jade Necklace

Those who subscribe to our newsletter are no strangers to Bettina Duncan. Bettina Duncan makes must-have jewelry for stylish women — no matter what your taste is. Bettina Duncan’s designs are varied and honor the eclectic, effervescent, and ever-changing energy of Los Angeles. Her work can be calm and humble, or it can be bold, bad ass, and in your face. Whatever your mood and sense of aesthetics are — Bettina Duncan has designed a piece for you.

Shop the Diamond Bead on Mix Opal, Pyrite, and Blue Jade Necklace.

Visit BetinaDuncan.com 

Heath Ceramics

2017 Winter Seasonal Collection

2017 Winter Seasonal Collection

Heath Ceramics makes elegant, tasteful, and unassumingly sophisticated products. The lines Heath Ceramics offers are robust and make sure every room in your house can be graced with the Heath Ceramics touch. We suggest you head on over to their Gift Page to view their neatly organized offerings this holiday season.

Shop Heath Ceramics Holiday Gifts.

Sankalpa

Dream a Little Dream Yoga Pants & Blue Moons Yoga Mat

Dream a Little Dream Yoga Pants & Blue Moons Yoga Mat

Your body is your temple, and your temple deserves some fine accessories. We’re passionate about healthy-living and keeping an active lifestyle. Yoga is one of our favorite ways to stay active in a meaningful yet low impact way. That’s why we love Sankalpa. Sankalpa makes ethically sourced and produced yoga pants and mats. And their yoga pants are made in the USA of imported fabric that is printed, cut and sewn in California. There’s just so much to love about Sankalpa. Check them out for gift ideas for the yogi in your life.

Shop Sankalpa Yoga Pants.

Shop Sankalpa Yoga Mats.

Incausa

Bath & Meditate Sets from the Incausa Collection

Bath & Meditate Sets from the Incausa Collection

Incausa makes mindfulness and checking in with yourself more desirable than ever. Incausa’s business-model celebrates and supports “indigenous heritage and sovereignty” by providing artisans from around-the-world with an outlet for their wares. The Incausa Collection takes its cues and inspirations from around the world. While the “Indigenous Collection” offers goods made from makers worldwide. The “Indigenous Collection” comes with the guarantee that 100% of the collection’s proceeds are returned to the artisan-makers responsible for each item.

Shop the Incausa Collection.

Shop the Indigenous Collection.

Dharma Trading Co.

Unleash Your Creativity with the Dyes, Tools, & Starter-Kits from Dharma Trading Co.

Unleash Your Creativity with the Dyes, Tools, & Starter-Kits from Dharma Trading Co.

The Dharma Trading Co. started in Berkley, CA back in 1969. Since then The Dharma Trading Co. has transitioned to an online store that offers affordably priced dyes, tools, starter-kits, and other goods for DIY-at-home-makers. Listen, we’re a boho-chic bunch, but sometimes we’re a little more chic than boho. The Dharma Trading Co. offers us all opportunities to roll up our sleeves, get a little dirty — a little rootsy, and tap back into essential and tactile truths. Dharma Trading Co. offers items that are appropriate for any age, but Dharma’s goods are especially perfect for families looking to spend time creating and crafting.

Shop Dharma Trading Co.

Mozza at Home & Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California

Image Courtesy of Laurel & Wolf

Image Courtesy of Laurel & Wolf

Food is essential. We need it to survive, but beyond that, we use food to show each other love and to celebrate. Food is truly communal. And we have a feeling you have a friend or two who considers themselves quite the at-home-chef. Well, we believe a big part of the holidays is sharing knowledge. And, maybe, an even bigger part of the holidays is leveraging our talents to entertain those we love. Well, these gifts do both! You’ll be giving the gift of culinary knowledge. And your friends will (hopefully) repay that gift by putting their newfound knowledge into practice! Whether your at-home chef is a total pro or just starting out these two cookbooks have you covered.

Shop Mozza At Home.

Shop Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California.

Compartes Gourmet Chocolate

Compartes Chocolatier Collection feat. the limited Edition Holiday Gingerbread Bar

Compartes Chocolatier Collection feat. the limited Edition Holiday Gingerbread Bar

Compartes Chocolatier has been hand-making chocolates since 1950 in small batches right here in Los Angeles, California. Compartes says they use “locally sourced ingredients and the best chocolate from around the globe creating chocolate as art.” And we have to say that sums things up pretty perfectly. Compartes chocolates are as beautiful as they are delicious — and they are so delicious… While it’s a safe bet that anybody and everybody will love Compartes chocolates, you can think of this as the ideal “something sweet” for the art-lover in your life.

Shop Compartes Gourmet Chocolate Gifts.

Williams Sonoma – Bar Tool Sets

The OXO Bar Tool Set - From Williams Sonoma

The OXO Bar Tool Set – From Williams Sonoma

This time of year is perfect for tasty craft-cocktails that delight the palate and warm you from the inside out. And we all have that one friend who fancies themselves the go-to-bartender at social gatherings. So, what better gift (and hint) than an elite set of home-bar-tools? They’ll appreciate you for it, you’ll appreciate them even more for their talents, and if they don’t get the hint you can always prod them with a subtle, “well, let’s give it a test-spin!”

Shop Williams Sonoma At-Home Bar/Cocktail Tool Sets.

Porsche Experience:

On Track at the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles

On Track at the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles

Speaking of test-spins… we decided to end this list with a gift like none other: The Porsche Experience. As they say, “few things can send the heart racing like getting behind the wheel of a Porsche” and that is exactly what you’ll be gifting someone with The Porsche Experience. Guests will be treated to the heart-racing thrill of driving an authentic Porsche automobile through challenging test tracks within Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles’ world-class training facilities. In addition to Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles’ “53 Acre Playground” (that’s a lot of track) guests will also be delighted by the on-site fine-dining experience of the Porsche 917 Restaurant, and the grab-and-go convenience of the Speedster Café. The Porsche Experience is the perfect gift to give someone with the need-for-speed who could use a day off from the usual thrill of the morning commute.

Visit the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles.

*All photos are courtesy of each brand’s Facebook page, except for the image courtesy of Laurel & Wolf.

Image courtesy of Evan Kirby.

Charities to Be Thankful for & How to Support Them

It’s important to always be thankful, and it can be hard too. But this time of year allows us to slow down and review our lives in ways we usually don’t. We work hard. We stress about work. We invest energy in our loved ones and their lives. We want new things — more things. We hang out on social media, looking for likes and yearning for engagement. It’s so easy to get swept up in it all. And it’s too easy to forget what we have to be thankful for.

That is why we are focusing our blog on five organizations we love and are truly thankful for: Safe Place for Youth, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, The National Breast Cancer Foundation, and Code for America. These are just five of the charitable organizations we admire, cherish, and support — but they are certainly five of our favorites. And each charity executes a unique and essential mission.

Let’s take a look at why these organizations are so needed, why we are so thankful for them, and how we all can continue to support them.

Safe Place for Youth:

Image courtesy of Safe Place for Youth.

Image courtesy of Safe Place for Youth.

Safe Place for Youth is dedicated to feeding and clothing the homeless youth of Los Angeles. This charity is especially close to our heart because of how, literally, close to home this charity is. Safe Place for Youth was founded in 2011 by Founder/Executive Director Alison Hurst. Hurst, along with a team of passionate volunteers, began providing homeless youths of Venice Beach, Los Angeles with hot food, clothing, and socks. And Hurst and her team did this all by driving around, up and down — feeding and clothing as many homeless young people as they could meet.

Since then, Safe Place for Youth has grown to be able to offer more diverse and robust services and programs for homeless and troubled youths. Partnerships and support from the local community have grown considerably as well. Safe Place for Youth has grown from a 100% volunteer-led organization to a professional staff of twelve full-time employees who continue to fortify existing programs and develop new ones. Since April 2015, Safe Place for Youth has occupied its own building in Venice.

Image courtesy of Safe Place for Youth.

Image courtesy of Safe Place for Youth.

Safe Place for Youth’s mission is: to inspire, nurture, and empower the resilient human spirit of homeless youth by providing immediate and lasting solutions, one young person at a time.

You can support Safe Place for Youth by donating here. And you can visit them at their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Planned Parenthood:

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood.

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood needs no introduction — but it definitely deserves one. Planned Parenthood is an American institution — it was founded on October 16, 1916, in Brooklyn, New York. The 100+-year-old organization is a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care in the United States and globally. In their own words, Planned Parenthood promotes “a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.”

That is an essential service, and it is one we are truly thankful for. And Planned Parenthood’s vision extends beyond reproductive health and rights. Planned Parenthood is committed to preserving health care globally. Planned Parenthood states it is, “committed to ensuring access to quality healthcare, education, and information for all individuals and families worldwide.” That is a massive undertaking.

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood. #StandwithPP

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood. #StandwithPP

We are lucky to be living in a world with Planned Parenthood. You can support Planned Parenthood by donating here. And you can visit them at their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And you can visit the Los Angeles Planned Parenthood site here.

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood President, Cecile Richards.

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood President, Cecile Richards.

The ACLU:

Image courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Image courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The American Civil Liberties Union fights for our freedom. The ACLU stands for our liberty and our nation’s liberty. The ACLU has spent almost 100 years defending and preserving the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. In its own words, “Whether it’s achieving full equality for LGBT people, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age of widespread government surveillance, ending mass incarceration, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach.”

Image courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union. High school students training to be ACLU activists.

Image courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union. High school students training to be ACLU activists.

The ACLU is a nationwide organization with over 2 million members, activists, and supporters. The ACLU champions and defends constitutional rights, whether they agree with those they are defending or not. That is an almost unimaginable task to execute. There aren’t many truly objective and nonpartisan organizations that adhere to standards above their bottom line. But the ACLU holds freedom above funding. The ACLU states, “The ACLU is nonprofit and nonpartisan. We do not receive any government funding. Member dues, as well as contributions and grants from private foundations and individuals, pay for the work we do.”

And you can support the ACLU by donating here. You can visit the ACLU at their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation:

Image courtesy of The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Image courtesy of The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is one of the newer charities we support. It was founded in 1991 by breast cancer survivor, Janelle Hail. Hail was diagnosed at the age of 34 in 1980. Back then there wasn’t much information about Breast Cancer, and Hail’s health — her life — depended on only a few options.

Janelle Hail’s treatment and experience led her to make a commitment to help women around the world by educating them about breast cancer and the importance of early detection. That desire led to the establishment of three key pillars of the NBCF’s protocol: Early detection, education, and support services.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation’s four main services are: the National Mammography Program, “Beyond the Shock,” the Patient Navigator Program, and the Breast Health Education program.

The National Mammography Program offers women, nationwide, free mammograms. You can search National Mammography Program affiliated facilities here. “Beyond the Shock” is an innovative online platform designed to educate people through affecting stories, told in writing and videos. You can visit “Beyond the Shock” here. The Patient Navigator Program helps patients cut through the complex barriers in the cancer care system to help ensure timely diagnosis, treatment, and support. You can search Patient Navigator affiliates here. And The Breast Health Education program directly educates woman about breast cancer through in-person meetings, materials provided at events, and online platforms. You can learn more about The Breast Health Education program here.

Image courtesy of The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Image courtesy of The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is a unique and special player in the fight against breast cancer. The NBCF’s programs and services support women in meaningful and innovative ways. The NBCF is a guiding light during a time which can be incredibly dark.

You can support The National Breast Cancer Foundation by donating here. And you can visit the NBCF at their website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Code for America:

Image courtesy of Code for America.

Image courtesy of Code for America.

Code for America is, in its own words, “a network of people making government work for the people, by the people, in the 21st century,” and to, “help government work better for the people who need it most.” If that sounds like a big goal, it’s because it is. Code for America knows what it is attempting to achieve is a massive and unending undertaking.

That is why Code for America calls on all Americans to lend their voices, ideas, and efforts. Remember, Code for America states their work is being done for the people and by the people. And Code for America proves that we can achieve remarkable results when we come together and work toward the greater good for all people.

Image courtesy of Code for America. Jennifer Pahlka - Executive Director, Code for America.

Image courtesy of Code for America. Jennifer Pahlka – Executive Director, Code for America.

Code for America was founded by Jennifer Pahlka in 2009. Pahlka is the former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. This position afforded her a deep and intimate understanding of the widening schism between public and private sectors, specifically regarding technology and design. Code for America works tirelessly to evolve the way we interface with our government.

You can support Code for America by donating here. And you can visit Code for America at their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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