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Down in the Valley: Jen’s List — West Hills’ Jen Levinson

Posted By Karen Young On August 17, 2009 @ 11:33 pm In Down in the Valley,Featured,Features,spotlight | 1 Comment

karenyoung110BY KAREN YOUNG

“I found it on Jen’s List.”   That’s a statement that rings across the Valley, and as the website and free daily newsletter has  grown to nearly 10,500 daily subscribers, it is now heard throughout Los Angeles.

Jen’s List is the brainchild of  West Hills resident Jen Levinson.  It’s  “the mom’s guide to what’s hot, new and undiscovered in Los Angeles, ”  so says the logo. And it is exactly as it sounds –  a  list of  places, products, services, events,  nannies with a family orientation.

A full-bred Valley girl, Jen was raised in Encino, attended public schools and  graduated  from Birmingham High School. She went on to San Diego State University, and upon graduating, became a fraud investigator for a period of time (no fraudulent referrals, please…she’ll catch them).

Jennifer Levinson

Jen Levinson

She  and her husband, Mike, a registered dietitian and fitness trainer, are the parents of  five boys — two sets of identical twins, ages 4 years and 14 months, and a 6 ½ year old.  Jen grew up with four brothers, so a life with boys is pretty familiar territory.

Jen says the idea for Jen’s List happened totally by fluke just over four years ago. “While pregnant with my first set of twins, and on bed rest for five months, I would read all types of magazines, watch informative television and research different things on the web. I’d then email the info to a few friends about what I found. I thought it was fun and found that sharing what I knew/learned with others really helped everybody. No sense in keeping it to myself…right?!”

From there, Jen’s List spiraled and the ten friends turned into hundreds, thousands, and now, moving into the tens of thousands.

So, how does she run this website (while taking care of a family of  seven, including herself, plus a dog, cat and two fish), that’s basically turned her into a guru of  “what,” “where” and “tell me the scoop?”

“I try to do what I can, when I can. It is hard. That is the truth. And it’s getting harder,” says Levinson who runs the site on her own.  “I get 200-250 emails a day, so just trying to stay afloat is challenging. I work when the babies are sleeping and the older ones are at camp and then after they go to bed, for the most part.”

However, despite the hours, Jen says it’s hard to believe what Jen’s List has evolved into and she’s definitely not complaining. “I’ve had an opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people and receive a lot of great feedback. It’s so worth it. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Who better to ask questions about the 818?

Here’s Jen Levinson’s take on the Valley:

Q: How long have you lived in the Valley?

Born and raised – a full-bred Valley Girl.

Q: What brought you to the Valley?

The stork.

Q: How do you describe the Valley?

My [very hot] suburbia.

Q: What’s the best thing about the Valley?

Much less crowded than the city.

Q: What’s the worst thing about the Valley?

The smog and the annual fires.

Q: Who’s the funniest person in the Valley?

My dear friend Gerilyn Shorten, wittiest person I know.  Oh and she’s writing this.

Kidding – real answer: My close knit group of girlfriends, they know how to make me laugh when I want to cry.

The Levinson Family

The Levinson Family

Q: What can you get in the Valley you can’t get anywhere else?

My friends and family.

Q: What’s a little unknown Valley secret?

Great public schools, fabulous parks and restaurants – it’s not all about hanging at the mall anymore.

Q: What is the most misunderstood thing about the Valley?

That it is hot ALL THE TIME and the stigma from the 80′s movie. .

Q: What’s the Valley’s number one treasure (in your mind)?

We are only 20 minutes from the beach!

Q: What is the biggest misconception about the Valley?

Even the West Valley isn’t “THAT” far from Los Angeles.

Q: What valley stereotype doesn’t exist?

“Valley Girls”

Q: What valley stereotype does exist?

Beautiful people, fabulous cars.  (But it doesn’t always complete the package.)

Q: What are some of your favorite finds?

Sample sales on Jen’s List, or any of the many discounts I post.  It’s really incredible – if you look, it’s out there.

Q: What do you usually do on a weekend morning?

Visit the Farmers Market in Calabasas or have breakfast at Cici’s in Tarzana

Q: What is a favorite kid activity in the Valley?

Calabasas Commons Kids Club on Tuesday Nights

Q: What are some of your favorite restaurants?

Moz Budda Bar, Maestro’s, Marmalade, Banzai

Q: What are some of your favorite stores?

Soto and Jackie & Nicole. Both in Woodland Hills

Q: If you could have something (place, thing, person, business) in the Valley that’s not here right now, what would it be?

Tito’s Tacos

jenheader400Q: What is a quintessential Valley place?

Chapter 8, Sherman Oaks Galleria

Q: What is the most romantic spot in the Valley?

Top of Mulholland

Q: What makes you the most nostalgic in the Valley?

Thinking about my childhood

Q: How do you relax in the Valley?

Walk around the Lake Calabasas

Q: Do you have a favorite place in the Valley?

Anywhere that is low key with family and friends.

Q: Do you have a favorite secret place?

The Calabasas Library – my quiet, little getaway.

Q: Where do you go when you want to get out of the Valley?

Either The Grove or Malibu Country Mart

Q: If you didn’t live in the Valley, where would you live?

Austin, Texas

Q: What do you do on a Saturday morning in the Valley?

Play at the park with the kids.

To learn more about Jen’s List, go to: www.jenlevinson.com

Karen Young is the Publisher/Editor of My Daily Find

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