Smart & Final Definitely Coming to Westlake Village

smart and final extra

It’s official: Smart & Final will definitely be moving in to where Haggen used to be – at the corner of Thousand Oaks Blvd. and Lindero Canyon (in the shopping center called Westlake Village Marketplace). Where Alberstons used to be. Three stores in a very short time! Whew!

haggen closingPhoto from Yelp by Elisa H.

At least the conjecture can end. In an email from a Smart & Final representative, I learned the following:

Smart & Final will open a new store at 5770 Lindero Canyon Road in West Lake Village under its Smart & Final Extra! format.

In comparison to traditional Smart & Final stores, Smart & Final Extra! stores offer shoppers expanded frozen, deli and meat sections, a full produce section, organic and natural food products, more high quality perishables and meats, a wide selection of private label offerings, goods tailored to business and household customers, and products offered in a broad range of sizes. In addition, the new store will include unique products such as oven-roasted chicken and self-serve dry bulk goods by the pound.

The Smart & Final Extra! format provides a one-stop shopping experience where businesses and organizations, as well as households, can purchase grocery and everyday staple needs while also stocking up on thousands of club-size products, all without a membership fee.

The new Westlake Village store is scheduled to open by the end of June 2016.

Personally, I’m thrilled. I like Smart & Final and whenever I have to go there, I visit the store in Woodland Hills, usually on the way home from the dentist or doctor. I think the new store will suit us just fine. What do you think?

Eatsa at The Village at Topanga – The Future of Lunch?


The hustle and bustle of the holiday season may take you to the The Village in Woodland Hills, the new outdoor mall on Topanga Canyon. If you’re hungry, pop into Eatsa and check it out: it’s a fully automated little indentation in the Topanga side of things that makes healthy, delicious food to go.


When I visited last week, staff were on hand to educate passersby about this unique little eatery. Here’s how it works.


Order your food from the iPad – you can select from a number of creatively designed quinoa bowls or salads, or build your own. I chose the Burrito Bowl – Guacamole, Salsa Fresca, Queso Mexicano, Asada Portabello, Grilled Corn, Warm Lemon-Herb Toasted Quinoa, Tortilla Chips, Seasoned Pinto Beans, but because everything is customizable I removed the queso, since I wanted to be dairy-free.


Then I ordered a beverage too, eatsa’s popular cucumber and melon soda, that only has 9 grams of sugar per serving. Why not? You swipe your card alongside the screen to pay. Then your name shows up on a screen on the back wall above the food cubbies.


When your meal is ready, the screen on the door of a cubby flashes your name and number, saying “Tap twice to open.” Then the door opens upward like a garage door, and voila! Your meal is revealed.



Utensils and napkins are available in slots in the wall on the right. Tables for enjoying your meal are arranged outside, or you can take your food to go. There will be an app that you can use to order in advance, and then you can just go quickly pick up your food, parking in the special eatsa spaces out front.

While it is conceivable that this entire transaction can take place without looking at or speaking to a human, the local eatsa manager and other staff were lovely and helpful. So what about the food?

Well, as a recent convert into the quinoa-loving crow (I have a Pinterest board devoted to it, and I make this recipe several times a month), I told eatsa CEO Tim Young that I am the choir he is preaching to. Fast food doesn’t have to be unhealthy, he believes. (Or expensive. The bowls start at $6.95 each.) Eatsa serves up bowls made with nutritious ingredients. My burrito bowl was delicious and I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture of it before I shook up the ingredients to combine them. So here is the eatsa photo:

bowl_burritoAll of the dishes are displayed on the iPad for you to see before you select. I was in the mood for guacamole that day, I guess. It was a combination of foods that I hadn’t thought of before and I LOVED it! Can’t wait to bring my kids, because they’ll dig the iPad ordering process, and my husband will definitely compare it to the Jetsons-type predictions of the future. Well, here it is. The future is now.

at The Village at Westfield Topanga
6320 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Woodland Hills

2015 Holiday Gift Guide

If you are just now in the thick of shopping for gifts for friends, family, clients, faraway relatives, etc., I have a few suggestions. These are items that were pitched to me that I just loved, or things I want myself!

Agoura Hills Mom 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

gift guide

The Winter Collection from DavidsTea

W15_WinterCollection_ENDavidsTea is a loose-tea shop that has locations in US and Canada. A new one just opened at The Village at Topanga, the new outdoor mall in Woodland Hills. Their teas are old-school loose teas, for better flavor. The Winter Collection is a group of 5 flavors – including hot chocolate, which smells amazing, like a chocolate dream with way fewer calories – and it comes with a set of biodegradable filters (or make-your-own tea bags).

hot chocolate teaOr you can gift this set with a pretty holiday infuser mug. Just put the tea in the strainer, pour hot water over it into the mug, and steep.H15_PerfectMugs_Red_BerriesWinter Collection – $25, available in store only (see here for locations – the Woodland Hills store is at The Village: 6316 Topanga Canyon Blvd Suite 1115, Woodland Hills, United States, 91367)
Holiday infuser mug – $23 available also online

2016 Nobody Hikes in LA wall calendar

nhila calendar

For your LA hiker. I post about hiking here all the time, so obviously I am your LA hiker. But please, don’t all order this for me at once. What will I do with 50 of them? Maybe I would give them away on the blog. But you don’t want to get presents for strangers who read my blog. Seriously, it’s enough that you had the thought. Just order one for the other avid hiker in your life.

Nobody Hikes in LA 2016 Calendar – $13 on


Cloudpets Teddy


cloupetsFor your friend or relative who travels away from his or her children all the time. This bear syncs up to an iPad or iPhone, and you can record your voice and send it to that device, which will sync back to the bear. The bear will play your recorded message. The child will hug it and feel loved by you from afar. My son loves his Teddy! Not that I travel all that much, but when I do, it can come in handy.

Cloudpets Teddy – $29.99 (plus S&H) online. Free shipping for active military.


Above Us Only Sky by Michele Young-Stone


above us only sky

For the grownup reader. A novel about a young girl who was born with wings, her connection to her Lithuanian heritage. Flips between 1980’s and World War II, and told with a lovely, light touch. Here’s my review on my personal site. I think it’s my favorite book of 2016.

Above Us Only Sky – $21.24 on Amazon


Books For Kids


fortunately the milk

Fiction: Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman A dad goes out to buy milk and falls into a fantastic adventure. I can totally see Gaiman telling his children this story himself. Great illustrations and just a fun read for kids.

guinessFor the young reader who loves non-fiction: Guinness World Records 2016 book boasts loads of fresh topics including YouTube, hacking, pirates (the swashbuckling variety), apps and more! Video game fanatics will be ecstatic when they discover the Guinness World Records 2016 Gamer’s Edition features more than 20 pages on the global gaming sensation Minecraft! And of course this must-own reference on video games features all new records for revered gaming franchises like Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda and much more.

Fortunately, The Milk – $5.39 on Amazon
Guiness World Records 2016 & Guinness World Records 2016 Gamer’s Edition – $16.00 and $8.57 on Amazon

Ninja Nesting Dollsninja nesting dolls

These mini-nesting dolls could be for the kids or for a whimsy-loving adult. They are so small – the largest is only 4.5″ tall – and so badass. How could you NOT love them?

Ninja Nesting Dolls – $12.59 by The Original Toy Company on Amazon

What’s on your wish list? Merry Christmas, everyone!

I received samples of some, but not all, of the above products. All opinions are my own.