DEALS & DISCOUNTS--The best deal I had all week was traveling in the beautiful state of Oregon. My parents came from New Mexico and we all headed up north with a fantastic deal from Southwest Vacations. We actually got three days and two nights in Vancouver Washington for just under $200! What a bargain!

Vancouver is right across the border from Portland and a fine place it is. The Goodwill there is particularly wonderful. Since Southwest allows two bags free, you can easily get some easy bargains and pack them up for the check in baggage on your flight home!

Everywhere in Oregon it is green green green – but the prices are easy on the green in your wallet. We at Mothers Bistro and Bar in downtown Portland and it was absolutely amazing. Not only that, the owner, Lisa Schroeder, has won tons of awards for her work in the community. They also have great events in their Velvet Lounge for your entertainment.

Another amazing Portland story is that of the McMenamins. The brothers were the first ones to open up a brewpub back in 1985 up in Portland. They now have something like 65 brewpubs across Oregon and Washington. But that’s not all they do. These guys are experts at renovating buildings and making them into sweet places, to eat, drink, relax and be entertained.

We checked out The Kennedy School, an old elementary school with a hotel, six bars, a theater, a spa and soaking pools. Prices are big time reasonable and the place is fantastic.

We also spend an entire day exploring the Historic Columbia River Highway and the six waterfalls just off of it. The highway itself is a national landmark. After that, we went down to the Mt. Hood scenic area to Parkdale where by Dad worked as a kid. In fact, my Dad has been talking about this area for years and that’s why we came. After laying eyes on it, you can see why he did.

We ended our day at the funky and fabulous former Sunshine flour mill in The Dalles. Yes, they’re the ones who make Cheezits; and the building is not a wine tasting room for Copa Di Vino and Quenett. We had a great guy names Spencer treating us to wine tastings, Cheezits and all the low down on the building and the area. When my Dad was a kid, The Dalles was actually level with the mighty Columbia; but after the Dalles Dam was built, the town literally had to pack up and move to higher ground.

There’s so much to see and do in Oregon that I know I’ve got to take more trips. There’s no deal like clean air, wholesome food and delicious libations. Here’s a tip: Don’t say you’re from California. Apparently Californians moving to Portland are driving the property prices up so high that they have a big housing crisis – not a good deal.

My idea is, let’s be respectful Californians when we visit Oregon –



Southwest Vacations   


Mothers Bistro & Bar

212 SW Stark St., Portland OR 97204


Open 7 am – 9 pm 


Sunshine Mill Winery

901 E. 2nd St., The Dalles, OR 97058



McMenamins Kennedy School

5736 NE 33rd Ave., Portland OR 97211 


Historic Columbia River Highway 


(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at  Facebook: - Twitter: @checkingthegate ... And her website:  



DEALS AND DISCOUNTS--Since Los Angeles banned single-use plastic bags in September 2014 at grocery and drug stores, Angelenos are getting the hang of bringing reusable bags for shopping. Using reusable bags makes us feel good knowing we are helping the environment and relieve local city dumps and landfills. (Photo above: … Fabric NWPP Shopping Bag $0.99, Insulated Bag $2.99, Laminated Shopping Bag $1.99, Environmentally conscience bags can be purchased at Santa Monica Co-opportunity)

You would think bringing our own reusable bags was picking up momentum, but with the strong lobby from Big Plastics, the ban on single use plastic bags has come to a halt, not just once, but twice on the California ballot for November 8, 2016. 


Single use plastic bags are bad for our environment.   The experts estimate that before the ban, families were taking home an average of 10 thin plastic bags every time they shopped with an annual average of 1,000 bags. 

These bags are made from either a high-density or low-density polyethylene drawn from petroleum, a precious natural resource made by the burning of fossil fuels. It is estimated that annually 12 millions barrels of oil are used to manufacture the 100 billion plastic bags that Americans use, with 15 billion in California alone. 

The average plastic bag is used for only 10 minutes, yet it can take up to 1,000 years to break down into a landfill. In fact, plastics eventually break down by flaking into a toxic dust getting into our soil and waterways. These plastic chunks and microscopic particles form a glutinous mass along with the plankton can be easily mistaken for food. Turtles, ducks, dolphins, porpoises and whales can choke or starve by confusing plastic bags for jellyfish or particles for plankton. If the animals survive, it is unlikely that they are able to continue with normal digestion eventually dying a slow and painful death from toxicity or intestinal blockage. Once a sea life dies, it disrupts the environmental balance where every other living organism is impacted. 

On land, the plastic bag litter is everywhere, and hard to clean up. While the statistics are incomplete, some conservationists estimate that at least 100,000 mammals and birds die from them each year. We also need to look at what plastic bags are doing to our landfills as it interacts with water forming hazardous chemicals. Once these chemicals seep underground, they contaminate the water system. 

We get the picture; disposable plastic bags are really bad, unnecessary, and only recycled 3% of the time leaving 97% disposed of improperly. We need to come up with another solution. The most viable option is to use reusable shopping bags. 


For a bag to be deemed re-usable, they have to be able to be durable enough to last 130 reuses. These eco-friendly bags, cost about one dollar, are available near the checkout stand just about everywhere. They come in a full range of sizes, colorful prints and patterns crafted from numerous materials and fabrics. 

Many retailers hand them out for free when you buy their products such as Lululemon and Steve Madden. But if I had to pay for shopping bags, my favorite would be from, pictured in the top banner. 1 Bag At A Time is a local Los Angeles company trying to make the planet a little greener. 

The founder of 1 Bag At A Time, Lisa Foster, started this company ten years ago to advocate for reusable bags and to publicize the damage of disposable bags in our environment and economy. As an advisor to Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, she knows the importance of reducing our carbon footprint by providing the best quality bags possible. You can get three varieties of reusable bags: 

For $0.99 you can get a standard fabric bag from 90 grams per square meter (GSM), non-woven polypropylene (NWPP) fabric tested for 1500 lifts and drops, to last up to two years of regular use. 

For $1.99, gets you a four-color laminated bag a little extra durable at 120 GSM that dirt can easily be wiped off. 

For $2.99, an insulated fabric bag for hot and cold foods. They can be zipped to seal the temperature inside. 

You can buy them retail at the Santa Monica Opportunity on Broadway and 15th Street, or wholesale online. 

FYI: Heal the Bay is sponsoring a Reusable Bag Day is on October 20. HTB volunteers will be passing out reusable bags to customers at grocery stores in underserved communities throughout the Los Angeles County. 

Another way you can help our environment is on Tuesday, November 8, in the California General Election. There are two measures on our ballots that need the attention of people who care about the environment by continuing to ban single use plastic bags. 


Prior to 2014, one-third of the state of California had already instituted local bans on single use plastic bags at large chain grocery and pharmacy stores. In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 270, SB-270, into law banning free plastic bags in the entire state, to take effect September 2015. 

Reacting quickly, the American Progressive Bag Alliance comprised of mostly out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers, or Big Plastics, spent millions to recall this ban and lobby for Propositions 67 and 65 to be placed on our California ballots. 

Big Plastic has a lot of money at stake, with annual revenues of almost $1 billion, and Americans being quite the consumer, throwing away 100 billion plastic grocery bags each year. 

On voting day, educate yourself on the measures at hand. The two propositions go hand in hand. As a warning, these propositions are designed to be really confusing. I have listed the propositions in opposite order since Prop 65 hinges on the outcome of Prop 67. (confusing already) 


This is a referendum, rather than an initiative, to repeal the 2014 vote ban on distributing single–use plastic carryout bags for free at the grocery check out. The mere act of putting this proposition on the ballot puts the state ban on hold until there is a majority vote for Prop 67. 

A “Yes” vote will do two things: ban single use plastic bags given out for free at the grocery in the state and require grocers to continue to charge a minimum of 10 cents for the paper bags. 

A “No” vote will stop the statewide bag ban altogether. Since we would have thin plastic bags at our disposal, there would be no need to buy paper bags for 10 cents. 

If Prop 67 passes and the10-cent bag charge continues, sales of paper bags in California can total $30 million annual, which is A LOT! What to do with the sales revenues of paper bags is the question for Prop 65. 


A “yes” vote would direct sales revenue into a so-called “environmental fee protection act” fund administered by the state of California. Most voters would assume that there is an environmental fee protection fund out there, but not so. This fund does not exist and would require years of legislature to turn into a reality.

A “no” vote is a vote against redirecting money. The sales of paper bags stay with the grocer, who in turn pays for their cost, as well as educational recycle-reduce-reuse programs in the community. 

Remember that both props were written by the Plastic Alliance with the purpose of eliminating the ban on single use plastic bags by deception and confusion. The “fine print” here is how both 67 and 65 are related to each other. 


If 65 does not pass, and 67 passes:

The statewide ban goes into effect, and the stores keep the bag fees being used to educate the public. Any future attempt to ban plastic bag sales will be effected by those provisions. Sounds like a WIN-WIN to me. 

If 65 passes, and 67 not passes:

No more statewide ban on thin plastic bags and the stores would hand them out again. There would no longer be a mandatory minimum 10-cent charge on paper and heavy plastic bags eliminating city of county ban ordnances. A lose-lose situation here. 

If both 65 and 67 passes, the result would depend on which proposition got the most votes:

MORE VOTES FOR 67 – Bag sale revenue would be kept by the stores and there would not be a fiscal impact on the stated related to prop 65. 

MORE VOTES FOR 65 – Bag sale revenue would be transferred to a new state fund with the increased state revenue used to support certain environmental programs. 

If both 65 and 67 do not pass:

No statewide carryout bag law. A total loss. 

It is a mystery how the powerful plastics lobby got enough signatures to put these measures on the November California ballot. They also cleverly found a way to get them listed as the last two propositions on a lengthy 17 propositions ballot. Your average voter will take an estimated 20-30 minutes to fill out their ballots. Since Prop 65 and 67 are the two last initiatives listed, a person may be anxious or impatient by the time they come across them. Big Plastics' hope is that voters would hastily vote NO on both, 67 and 65. 

NO votes on both would eliminate the statewide plastic bag ban altogether. In turn, consumers would revert to getting free disposable bags at checkout. This, in turn, would, reinvigorate the plastic business and lead to further destruction of our ecological environment with deadly plastic pollution and discouraging sustainable consumer behavior. 

VOTE YES on PROP 67 to continue the ban on disposable plastic bags. 

VOTE NO on PROP 65. This prop was written to deceive voters into sabotaging the statewide ban. There is no Wildlife Fund. 

In addition, buy ecologically smart reusable bags. My favorites are from a local Los Angeles manufacturer, 1 BAG AT A TIME. Information below.  


RETAIL: The Opportunity Market and Deli, 1525 Broadway, Santa Monica 

WHOLESALE:  Bagatatime   



KCET Ballot Brief 

Surfrider-Yes on 67  


Ballot Analysis


(Sue Helmy has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She is currently providing superb administrative services at a financial management firm in Century City. She is active in countless church and civic organizations and spends every minute she can spare dancing to the Zumba beat.)


DEALS & DISCOUNTS-About a week ago, I was greeted at the front desk of my neighborhood gym by not only the friendly staff person behind the counter, but also by a letter stating that the Courtyard Club would be closing down. This was a shocker. 

I was late to the Courtyard Club party. 

The club has been in the same building that NBCUniversal just vacated for twenty-seven years. I have lived in the area for eighteen of those years. Somehow – no doubt due to lack of funds – I was never able to enjoy the many benefits of the club formerly known as Meridian, Bodies in Motion. 

About a year and a half ago, I was looking to join a club where I could swim. The Courtyard Club, with its’ access to the salt water pool at Park La Brea, was a sight and a site for an injured foot. I gladly paid the higher monthly price for a limited membership club and access to a beautiful salt water pool for those times when the only exercise my foot will allow is a swim. 

Later, the residents of Park La Brea would object to the arrangement, and pool access would be terminated for anyone who did not already have the pool on their membership (e.g. me). 

I loved the towel service, the great classes, the locker room lounge, the dry and wet sauna and vibe in the gym, where people were just low key, working out, doing their thing – no posing, no waiting for machines or showers. Management would also feature exhibits of various artists throughout the gym, along with a reception when the exhibit opened. 

All was right on the Miracle Mile. 

Alas, a great deal has changed in the neighborhood and continues to do so. The new Metro stops on both ends of The Mile, at Fairfax and La Brea, promise even bigger alterations to the face of the miracle built by A.W. Ross. 

According to the letter I received from the Courtyard Club, Tishman Speyer advised the club that they would not be renewing their lease due to the fact that the club was not a part of the future of the building. This is Tishman Speyer that also owns Rockefeller Center, and the Chrysler building, the Sony Center in Berlin, and so on. Today, I was told by an employee at Equinox headquarters in New York that the club plans to open a location on Wilshire Boulevard in the Fall of 2017. 

Just to add a little perspective to those who are not familiar, I was paying $84 per month for the Courtyard Club, including access to the pool at Park La Brea. The charge per month without the pool is some $70. If you paid for an annual membership, you would get two months off, bringing my total to $840 per year. 

The lowest Equinox membership fee in the Los Angeles area is $152 per month for the Glendale/Pasadena area. The highest is Beverly Hills at $225. The closest club to the Miracle Mile would be West Hollywood, coming in at $201 per month. 

The question is: What does it mean when a gym like Equinox comes to your neighborhood? I’m thinking, it’s not a good deal. 


Perhaps as shocking as the closing of the Courtyard Club was the message I got verbally from the manager saying that there would be no refunds. I paid for an annual membership to the club, which isn’t up til the end of December. I smell a bad deal there. I spoke to one member who said he’s paid up until March. Perhaps the management will be re-thinking this policy. 

In the meantime, we found a great deal at a super-newyork-fragelistic gym up on Beverly Blvd. Easton has been in business since 1938. Imagine that. The owners even came back from the ashes once in 1952 after a bad fire and a rebuild. 

The place has got a real awesome exposed brick New York kind of feel to it and the staff is super friendly. CJ and Katie will get all the orphans from Courtyard set up – at least those who don’t want to spring for Equinox in a year or move to the sister gym of Courtyard in Century City or West LA. 

They’ve even got a Mojo Café right next door. You can use your member number there - like a tab. The gym will charge the credit card on file for your smoothies and such. Nice! They’ve also got a sundeck up top and a TRX set up there for those who go in for that kind of thing. 

Hey who knows? Maybe we’ll see you on the pilates mat or sipping on a smoothie in the Mojo!  

Easton Hollywood

8053 Beverly Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90048


Hours: Mon-Fri 5 am – midnight

Sat-Sun 7 am – 10 pm 

(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at  Facebook: - Twitter: @checkingthegate ... And her website:  


HAPPY HOUR DISCOVERIES--Sometimes, you just want to try something new. That was how I was feeling this past Saturday when I set out to sample more of our city's happy hour fare. 

A gal can't always find a happy hour on a weekend; but on this particular day, I discovered two real gems. Today, I'd like to chew on your ear a bit about this place on Third Street over by the Beverly Center. I'll tell you one thing; It's really tough to get free parking around those parts and the meters nearby are only good for an hour. If you really want to go out in the carefree style to which we would all like to be accustomed, it's really best to just pay the $7 for the valet. 

Other options of course are CARPOOL or LYFT. 

However you get there, you are in for a real treat! I had a French pinot gris and a Sonoma Coast pinot noir - both solid and satisfying wines. Their happy hour menu is luscious and I can't wait to get back and sample more! I had an out-of-this-world kale salad with kohlrabi, nuts, seeds, quinoa and pecorino - perfection! ONLY $7! 

They're packing a punch of flavor with haloumi and olives, truffle fries with truffle aioli, a fried chicken sandwich or a Goldie's burger, to name a few, all at prices ranging from $5 To $8! Their regular menu looks pretty dang dandy as well. I didn't know it at the time, but it turns out the chef is renowned - a bloke from Australia called Paul Lim. 

Now I doubt ole Paul works night and day; so, I think I'll have to get down there and try the dinner menu one day soon! 

Special craft cocktails abound and, like the beer and wine, they're on offer for 1/2 price during the happy hour. "The Young One" comes with vodka, fresh raspberries, Campari, lemon, basil, and sparkling spritz and the "Smoke on the Water" comes with mescal, watermelon, oolong tea, lime, agave and Fresno chili. 


The half price special brings these mouth-watering cocktails in at $6.50 and the wines at $6.50 to $7.50. You'll pay a mere $3-$3.50 to sample a bottle of one of the beers for a discriminating palate, such as Humboldt IPA, Scrimshaw Pils and Anderson Valley Summer Solstice. 

After all this talk, I'll bet you're thinking like I was. Goldie's...sounds like the owner is a blonde woman Hollywood agent from William Morris who drives a flashy convertible and smokes pastel colored cigarettes. Well, You would be as far off as I was. I spoke to one of the amazing bartenders at the establishment who informed me that the owner is, like the chef, an Australian bloke, who also owns Eveleigh up on Sunset as well as a restaurant in New York. 

It's worth meant mentioning that the restaurant is committed to sustainability and that the decor is inviting and relaxing. With the look of a comfy cabin in the woods, I was inclined to dream of the next chapter in my novel as I sat on the open patio, enjoying the culinary treats. That was great but I feel that Goldie's real strength is in its perfect atmosphere to share an evening with friends or maybe a date - where folks can unwind, talk and have a laugh or two. 



8422 W. Third St.

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Phone: 323-677-2470


Happy Hour times:

M-F 12 - 6

Sat 3 - 6

Sun 3 – Close


(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at  Facebook: - Twitter: @checkingthegate ... And her website:  


More Articles ...