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Showing posts from April, 2013

Culture Crush Game of Thrones #25: Your Weekly Ass Kicking

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Each week, we'll discuss the latest hard knocks in Game of Thrones, who kicked ass and who got theirs kicked, all wrapped up in a neat little recap. We'll clarify some kinks in the story, too. This is your Spoiler Alert warning, so read on with caution. 


By Lisa

Episode #25: Kissed By Fire (air date 4/28/13)

We saw a lot of great action this week. King Robb, Lord Beric and the Hound, Lord Tywin and Jon Snow all handled their business quite forcefully this week.

Ignoring pleas from his family, Robb decides to chop off his bannerman Lord Karstark's head for disobeying the order to leave the Lannister captives alone. All of Karstark's men subsequently leave the armies of the North, a significant loss. The Young Wolf decides to go talk with Lord Frey at the Twins, and ask for support and men to attack the Lannister home of Casterly Rock. Lord Frey will not be pleased, as Robb was supposed to marry one of his daughters and backed out of the pledge.

The Hound and Lord B…

Every day is Monday...

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Every day is Monday… and sometimes there are setbacks. It’s hard to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start each morning anew. Lately the weight I have lost has been creeping back on. Reducing the diet sodas has helped curb the need for salty carbs, but it hasn’t been enough. I know what to do, but sometimes we all just fall back into old habits. My new lunch bag and new tumbler have put a fresh perspective on drinking water and bringing my lunch. My downfall lately has been the afternoon snack and the snack pushers. Some call these snack pushers coworkers. Each morning they entice you with donuts and trips to the coffee machine. In the afternoon they crave cookies, brownies and bring cakes for birthdays. The other day I had an amazing slice of Boston Cream Pie-style cake. With all the tragedy in Boston, I felt I was doing my part having a slice… right? Okay, we will all give ourselves crazy excuses to eat things we shouldn’t. It’s almost summer and the fruit at the stores and …

What to do with split ends?!

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The only thing that can truly get rid of split ends is a haircut, but there are ways to help prevent or hide split ends. 

Heat damage is the number one cause of split ends.  Blow drying, curling irons and flatirons all take their toll on your hair. Use a heat protector to help whenever you are going to use heat.

Using products such as serums and oils can help give the hair a smoother appearance, concealing the look of frayed ends.

Getting a gloss treatment at a salon after or in between your color treatments helps by smoothing the hair cuticle temporarily, maximizing shine and giving the appearance of healthier hair.  

Lisa McMillan

Culture Crush Book Review: The Office of Mercy By Ariel Djanikian

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Hardcover published February 21, 2013 (Viking)
Reviewed By Lisa


Ah, the dystopic future Young Adult novel is such a big deal right now, especially on the heels of The Hunger Games' publishing and cinematic success. Remember after the buzz on Twilight, the marketplace was inundated with magical creatures in movies and on the YA book scene and television? The genre has moved from werewolves and vampires in contemporary life to a future populated by humans, both the regular variety and the genetically modified kind. Ideologies and technology are pitted against nature and honest emotion/reaction, with a back story about the survival of the human race after some cataclysmic event (usually man-made.)

The Office of Mercy grabs us from the first, showing exactly how that titular euphemism works in this particular future of the North American continent. What follows is the well-written and nicely paced story of young Natasha Wiley's growing understanding of the main directives of her ho…

Celebrate good times… come on!

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Tuesday was my dad’s birthday. I always go all out on special days for my loved ones. However, I’ve been on jury duty lately so I couldn’t plan too much. With the help of my stepmom, I was able put together a nice dinner for him. We got him a few shirts as his gifts and bought him a cake. I also wanted to take him to coffee but I didn’t have enough time to do it in the morning. I felt a little disappointed about not making him feel special enough. Then it really clicked, the fact that we’re celebrating his birthday at all is a joy for him because when my dad was a kid, he was so poor that he never celebrated anything. No birthdays, Santa Claus never came to his house, no anything that meant celebrating. 
At times he would go days with just one meal for the entire day! So, it all makes perfect sense; my dad appreciates every single sign of love and care that we give him because he never had it as a kid. I know all about his childhood but never understood the vastness of his big open h…

Life is Full of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 10

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Culture Crush Game Of Thrones #24: Your Weekly Ass Kicking

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Each week, we'll discuss the latest hard knocks in Game of Thrones, who kicked ass and who got theirs kicked, all wrapped up in a neat little recap. We'll clarify some kinks in the story, too. This is your Spoiler Alert warning, so read on with caution. 

By Lisa

Episode #24: And Now His Watch Is Ended (air date 4/21/13)

Let's get right to it, shall we? Daenerys kicked major ass this week, taking command of the Unsullied army and ordering them to slaughter the adult slavers of Astapor, surprising all with her command of her native tongue, Valyrian. Kraznys met a fiery end, doused in dragonfire from Drogon, Dany's large, black dragon. Daenerys sets the Unsullied free, but asks if they will fight for her as free men, to which all seem to agree, and she leads them out of Astapor.

Elsewhere, across the Summer Sea in Westeros, the intrigue grows. Varys, upon learning of Lord Baelish's secret plan to take Sansa Stark with him when he sets out for the Eyrie, suggests to …

Civil Discourse

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Thoughts On Civil Discourse
At least once a day I think about how the internet has changed our lives (probably in ways we don’t fully understand yet.) And I also wonder about how fast the whole phenomenon continues to evolve.  You can measure the speed of change by watching movies not yet 5 years old and finding the technology therein laughable. The size of computer screens and cell phones are the first dead giveaways: “OMG look at that HUGE monitor! Har har har har. What primitives we were in 2007!”
But, I also spend a lot of time wondering about the way we are changing as human beings, if at all. Are we better? Are we learning more? Are we becoming more or less tolerant? There's that internet joke that buzzed around a couple of months ago: if you showed someone from the 50’s the internet, and said you could access all the world’s knowledge through it, yet mostly you used it to get in arguments with strangers and look at funny cat pictures, what does that say about you?
The thin…

Life's hangovers

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Life's hangovers...I'm not j talking about alcohol-induced hangovers. I'm talking about life's events that give us hangovers after they come to an end. My social hangovers happen after I plan a great birthday party for my kids or husband, a dinner party with friends, a girl’s night out or any other celebration. After such events, I wake up with a sense of happiness and nirvana that overwhelms me, only to realize that the fun time had by all is over! It makes me a bit heartsick to have it come to an end. I love to see my family and friends have a great time, I love to have my face hurt from laughing and smiling so much. After each planned celebration is over, I feel a sense of emptiness, as if I’ve lost the most valuable item I own! A feeling of longing for the celebration to continue but that I know has to end, at least until next time.
It's almost like a weird sense of wanting to call a friend to tell them good news but there is no happy news to talk about. I do…

Vegas, Baby!!

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Planning a girls’ trip brings up both excitement and anxiety! The excitement of getting away with girlfriends and having a great time is amazing, but with that excitement comes the anxiety of traveling without my kids and husband and the unknown dynamic that the group will have in an environment like Vegas, where the odds are stacked up against all of us. Vegas brings out the worst and the not-so-bad in all of us. Not much good comes out of Vegas. It’s hot and you have to walk tons with little sleep and the high possibility of losing money and different personalities clashing.
In the haze of the excitement, gambling and drinking, we will most likely forget the bad and just remember the fun times, unless the disagreements and arguments are so bad, they can’t be overlooked. The problem is, I have many horror stories from Vegas girls’ trips, so I’m almost always hesitant to believe that more than four women can get through a Vegas trip without disagreements or fights. Every trip I’ve ev…

Culture Crush Game of Thrones #23: Your Weekly Ass Kicking

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Each week, we'll discuss the latest hard knocks in Game of Thrones, who kicked ass and who got theirs kicked, all wrapped up in a neat little recap. We'll clarify some kinks in the story, too. This is your Spoiler Alert warning, so read on with caution.


By Lisa

Episode 23: Walk Of Punishment (air date 4/14/13)

Catelyn's brother Edmure proves insufficient to light the funeral boat of their late father, the Lord Hoster Tully, on fire. Their uncle Ser Brynden, the Blackfish, steps in with thunderous silence and places one well-timed flaming arrow on the boat just before it disappears down the Trident. After the funeral, Robb Stark rails on his uncle Edmure for rushing in and scattering Gregor Clegane and Lannister forces, and mucking up Robb's plans.

The Blackfish spends some time talking with Catelyn, about times past and giving her guidance for the future. Ser Brynden is not only a legendary fighter and tactician but also known for his wisdom and honor.

Arya and …

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 10

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Culture Crush Game of Thrones #22: Your Weekly Ass Kicking

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Each week, we'll discuss the latest hard knocks in Game of Thrones, who kicked ass and who got theirs kicked, all wrapped up in a neat little recap. We'll clarify some kinks in the story, too. This is your Spoiler Alert warning, so read on with caution. 

By Lisa
Episode 22: Dark Wings, Dark Words (air date 4/7/13)

Bran wakes from another dream. Osha and Hodor have carried Bran and Rickon away from Winterfell, into the forest. Jojen and Meera Reed make their entrance; Jojen has the Green Sight and has been sent by his father to help Bran. Jojen tells Bran that he is the three-eyed crow he dreams of so much.
On the long slog back towards the Wall, Lord Commander Mormont rips Rast a new one for complaining about Sam's slow progress and charges him with seeing Sam safely back to Castle Black, or forfeit his life.
King Joffrey battles the demons in his head - you can practically hear his twisted little mind getting a hard on as Lady Margaery strokes his new fancy crossbow and…

Culture Crush Game of Thrones #21: Your Weekly Ass Kicking

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Each week, we'll discuss the latest hard knocks in Game of Thrones, who kicked ass and who got theirs kicked, all wrapped up in a neat little recap. We'll clarify some kinks in the story, too. This is your Spoiler Alert warning, so read on with caution.

By Lisa
Since this debuts Your Weekly Ass Kicking recap, I'll be breaking it down all this week for the first three episodes of Season Three, in three separate posts.
Episode 21: Valar Dohaeris (air date 3/31/13)
All men must serve. Not a lot of ass-kicking in this season debut, but necessary parts of the story are connected. Lord Tywin throws his weight around with Tyrion, and we get to meet Mance Rayder, the former brother of the Night's Watch turned wildling leader.
Samwell escapes the fighting between the Night Watch and the White Walkers and stumbles upon the few remaining brothers, including Lord Commander Jeor Mormont (the Old Bear), from the force decimated in the battle on the Fist of the First Men. The brother…

Every day is Monday... by Christine

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Every day is Monday… and it’s time to spring clean. I had a success two weeks ago, but this last week I had a setback. The ups and downs of the scale are probably something everyone feels no matter how many pounds you are looking to lose. Each day we start with a new outlook to make today a better day. If you are spring cleaning your home, don’t forget to start with the refrigerator. Anytime there are holidays or a social event, I need to schedule time with my refrigerator and the large black trash bag. I know some people hate to waste food. So you have to ask yourself, is eating unhealthy food more of waste than putting it in the garbage? Would you force the person you love to eat something unhealthy just to avoid throwing it away? It’s important to love yourself enough to take leftover cookies, cakes, chips and dip and toss them in the garbage. Some of these snack foods find their way into your home and now they need to move out.
The next step is to take a trip to the store. With …

Culture Crush Music: Glen Hansard

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By Lisa and Fabiola

I had heard of Glen Hansard here and there, mostly on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, but he never really made it very high on my radar. However, Fabiola sat me down and insisted I needed to take a good listen, that I was missing out.

A singer/songwriter of many facets, Mr. Hansard started out as a street musician with just a guitar and his voice at age 13 in Dublin, Ireland. Over the past 30 years, he has released albums with The Frames and The Swell Season, acted in movies and television, sang all over the world and just last year, finally put out his debut solo album, Rhythm and Repose. But the street has never been far from his steps. Recently, CBS Sunday Morning profiled Mr. Hansard as he took a turn busking in New York City.




A few years ago, Mr. Hansard had the lead in the low-budget movie Once, co-starring with Marketa Irglova, his partner in The Swell Season. The movie rode a slow buzz, became an international hit, was nominated for a few Grammys, wo…

Brunettes Lightening Up

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This past year, one of the most requested colors I've been getting is model Lily Aldridge: brunette, but with lighter ends. Not a true ombré, more like she was in Hawaii surfing all summer.

Just over a week ago, Sofia Vergara went blonde, posting a photo on her Instagram account. I'm betting this is going to cause the biggest hair color trend this upcoming season.



Last summer, when Kim Kardashian went blonde for a quick minute, it was hot, but back to dark too fast for the trend to catch on. I loved it.
Lisa McMillan

Culture Crush Music Review: Bang Bang Boom Boom by Beth Hart

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By Lisa
Southern California native Beth Hart returns to the music stage in style with a new full-length album, chock-full of bluesy, soulful songs. Produced by Kevin Shirley and recorded at The Cave in Malibu, CA, Bang Bang Boom Boom brings it all back around for Ms. Hart. After years of struggles and triumphs and a career that has had more than its share of fits and starts, Ms. Hart's groove is set on full-steam ahead.

Ms. Hart's voice still sounds uniquely amazing, as it did when I first met her almost 20 years ago in Los Angeles. Of course, there were the inevitable comparisons to Janis Joplin when she used vibrato. She was just coming up then, in a tight little local band with bassist Tal Herzberg and guitarist Jimmy Khoury. And, she could BLOW. I have kept an eye on her career over the past two decades and am thrilled to report Ms. Hart still has her trademark voice and continues to rock hard and true.



Released on April 2, Bang Bang Boom Boom features a jazzy title track…

Every Day Is Monday... By Christine

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Every day is Monday... and the challenge continues to drink more water and less soda.  I had a weight loss on the scale this past week, so there was validation from the scale. Reducing the caffeine can really help curb the appetite and assist in getting to sleep at night. As I continue to challenge myself to reduce soda and increase water intake, I am also trying to remember to turn off the electronics at night and get some sleep. 
I read an interesting article about people trying a new sleep diet, where you get at least 8 hours of a sleep a night. I thought it was funny, since any program promoting healthy living or weight loss encourages you to get plenty of rest at night. Anytime we are tired, we need sleep or fuel. Instead of sleeping, we turn to quick and easy carbs filled with simple sugars. When you are tired, it's hard to make a nice salad and chicken. It just seems easier to go to a drive thru somewhere and order by number or grab a candy bar filled with peanuts so that…

Good Energy, Bad Energy...

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I was in the middle of rant about this one mom who makes really snarky comments all the time. I stopped and wondered why I spent energy on this negative woman, instead of spending my energy on the amazing people in my life. I wish bad thoughts or hurt feelings were like objects that we can move around or throw away when we no longer want them.
I didn’t want to think about how this one woman made me feel when she criticized my parenting skills. I wanted to think about all of the wonderful people in my life! The sad thing is, I’m so used to playing scenarios over and over in my head that I couldn't stop myself this one time. That’s not the case every time, because I work so hard to focus on the good and the amazing energy I feel when I’m around people who love me and care about me. 
Truth is, some people are going to be shitty toward anyone they feel like being shitty to and I can’t change that. I can change the way I react… BUT, it’s so hard. I have been able to step back and no…

Did someone say Italian Doughnuts? Yum!

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Bestie Note:  I tried Trader Joe's pizza dough with this recipe and it worked out great!  Even the whole wheat batch was super yummy!  It was surprisingly easier to make than I thought.
Italian Doughnuts Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Cook Time:10 min Level: Intermediate Serves: about 18 doughnuts

Ingredients: Vegetable oil, for frying
Olive oil, for frying
1 pound prepared pizza dough
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Directions: Pour equal parts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a floured 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out doughnut rounds. Using a floured 1-inch cookie cutter, cut out a hole in the center of each doughnut. Gather the dough scraps and re-roll to cut out more doughnuts.

Whisk the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl to blend. Set the cinnamon-sugar aside.

W…