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Showing posts from July, 2013

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 10

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Culture Crush: Beach Yoga With Brad

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By Lisa

If you find yourself in Los Angeles and in need of a little decompression, make time for Beach Yoga With Brad in Santa Monica. This is our favorite yoga practice in all Los Angeles for two reasons: the environment and the teacher. Led by the wonderful, peaceful presence of Brad Keimach, this class focuses on breathing and gentle poses, and nothing can compete with the view. Pods of dolphins and flocks of pelicans are regular sights, and the calming crash of waves and gentle sea breeze make this the best yoga class in the city.

Working in the sand, usually on a towel or mat, is an added challenge for your core. Sometimes we get a little crazy and go straight for the unadulterated sand. Try Down Dog facing the ocean, with your hands and feet lapped by gentle surf and gain a whole new perspective. Every minute spent here is a complete, heart-healing joy. Lose yourself in the breath. Energize with some back bends like Sphinx, Bridge or Camel. Complete relaxation comes a lot more …

It's not all about you...

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It’s not all about you!
My friend Jill’s son, Finn, was born with VACTERL Association. Finn's heart (c), trachea (t), esophagus (e) and kidneys (r) were not correctly formed in his baby body. What this all means is that his esophagus was not attached to his stomach. It also means that his esophagus was attached to his trachea and then to his lungs.Finn is now five years old and has fought many health scares and uphill battles throughout the short years of his life. In the past six months, I’ve been more involved in Jill’s life and have heard of the struggles with raising this beautiful child. 
Earlier this month, Jill and her husband raised money to take Finn to Boston to see specialists who can possibly help him live a better life. On July 25th, there was an update on their Facebook page that said the surgery didn’t go as smoothly as planned, and to please respect their privacy! My initial reaction was one of anger! Yes, stupidity kicked in and I was upset to not know more about…

Culture Crush Book Review: The English Girl by Daniel Silva

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Hardcover published July 16, 2013 (Harper)
Reviewed by Lisa

Daniel Silva returns with another well-crafted international spy adventure starring his formidable hero Gabriel Allon. This time we jump between Israel, England, Corsica, France, Denmark and Russia, following the tightly knotted twists and turns of the story.

Chronicling the journeys of legendary Israeli spy and well-respected art restorer Allon, The English Girl is the thirteenth book of a series that publishes one new adventure annually. Packed with taut prose and a plethora of historical and artistic facts and creative license, these books are extremely well-written. Although in a few recent books the author's political viewpoint gets a little overbearing, mostly it's convincingly conveyed as Allon's perspective, coming from his experience as a child of a Holocaust survivor, growing up in Israel with the ongoing backdrop of Israeli-Palestinian strife. The added Muslim/Arab world and US/English dynamic, along wi…

I can’t help myself…

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The thought of my daughter starting middle school gives me heart palpitations. What’s ahead for our new school year? What are the challenges we’ll face? It’s still summer time and I should be enjoying the time my kids are home, but picking up a registration packet today doesn’t help me relax. The unknown is always a hard concept to grasp. Even though I spend a lot of time reading blogs, magazine articles and books about what’s to come, I’ll never really know until it’s happening.
I wonder about the friendships that will begin and end in middle school, the new school schedule that now includes changing clothes for PE and eating lunch in an actual cafeteria and not the lunch shelter. What will the new parents be like, and more importantly, the teachers?
I had lunch with my friend Pam, who has two boys in high school, and I went on and on about being stressed about this new change. She gave me advice like: make sure you remind your daughter to be courteous to everyone because she’ll b…

Culture Crush: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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By Lisa

Summertime brings out the best at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. There's plenty to see and do, all in a gorgeous museum and garden setting. Besides a sturdy permanent collection, LACMA hosts an endless series of featured exhibitions bringing great art to the masses of Los Angeles.

In addition to the visual art, music and film are prominently displayed; check out the calendar for a schedule of films, music, tours, talks and courses available to the public. LACMA is an affordable option for families and kids - take advantage of their Nexgen program to receive free admission to the regular galleries for children and an accompanying adult. Special exhibitions often cost a good deal more per ticket, though.

Surrounding LACMA are beautifully landscaped grounds, filled with art, fountains and plants. Fenced-off, bubbling pools of tar and working archaeological sites, the La Brea Tar Pits, dot the area around the museum buildings. The Page Museum sits adjacent to LACMA and…

Sweet and Saltines

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Ingredients  Cooking spray 35 to 40 saltine crackers 2 sticks (1 cup) butter 1 cup light brown sugar 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/3 cups)
Directions Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 1 large or 2 small jelly-roll pans with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick spray and arrange the saltines salt-side down in a single layer. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil until it turns a caramel color, a few minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly. Put the jelly-roll pan into the oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just bubbly, watching carefully. Remove from the oven and pour the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife. Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
Food Network - Trisha Yearwood Sweet and Saltines

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 10

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Vacation Guilt

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I was in Cabo, Mexico, last week with a very good friend of mine, and I loved every minute of it! However, with that joy also came guilt every night before bed. My kids and husband were home while I lived it up on a girls’ vacation. My friend also missed her two kids but neither one of us talked about feeling guilty or missing our kids. It was an unspoken sentiment, but I figured if I talked about it with her I would cry and would be upset about it a lot more, so I didn’t. 
Being a mom comes with lots of rewards but the guilt overrides all of the rewards when I travel. My son had two bloody noses and got pink eye while I was on vacation. I felt so bad for him because the night I talked to him on FaceTime, he cried his little heart out, claiming to be having the worst day of his life! In that moment of tears and sadness, I felt relieved to be in Cabo because I could comfort him and right after that I could go and jump in the pool or Jacuzzi and enjoy a great sunset and a cold margarit…

Culture Crush Throwback Thursday: Discipline by King Crimson

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Culture Crush gets in on the Throwback Thursday fun and shares an oldie and a goodie from the past. This week's highlight is the legendary seven-song opus Discipline from King Crimson.

By Lisa

Released over thirty years ago, Discipline is a stellar album, populated with compositions at once tight and structured yet improvisational and flowing. Led by Robert Fripp, King Crimson has had numerous lineups and sporadic album production since inception in 1968. Currently, King Crimson is in its fourth hiatus with the announced retirement of Mr. Fripp from the music industry and will never reform unless he decides to return.

Every single track on Discipline has its own berth in the heavens of music. My favorites would have to be "Elephant Talk" and "Indiscipline." And then there's "Matte Kudasai" and "Discipline." It's like choosing a favorite star in the sky. Some shine brighter on certain days or catch the eye depending on mood, but they …

Chicken and Asparagus Crepes

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Bestie Tip:  An easy and super yummy, summer dinner the kids will love!  Pre-made crepes are sold at most grocery stores.
Chicken and Asparagus Crepes Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine
Prep Time: 20 Cook Time:15 min Level: Easy Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish 2 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, dill, chives or mint) Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 8 store-bought crepes (about 9 inches each) 1 shallot, sliced 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into pieces 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Directions Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a large baking dish. Combine the chicken, ricotta, 1/2 cup parmesan, 3 tablespoons herbs, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Spoon about 1/4 cup filling across the lower half of each crepe; roll up to enclose the filli…

Culture Crush Travel: Philadelphia

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By Lisa

Along with all its historic must-sees, Philadelphia has some great contemporary local flavor going on, beyond the venerable cheesesteak. From micro-breweries and delicious restaurants to beautiful parks and public places, there's something for everyone in the City of Brotherly Love. The city's first museum patron, Benjamin Franklin, would be proud of the numerous cultural, artistic, historical and scientific offerings.

Featuring over 200 galleries of art from pre-antiquity through present day from all over the world, the Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts major exhibitions and also a terrific collection of French Impressionism. Situated at the end of beautiful Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Museum includes lovely grounds, an awesome gift shop, and of course, those famous steps from Rocky - every day, people run to the top of the steps with arms raised and cheer.




Open in 1929, the Rodin Museum recently completed a major renovation inside and out and boasts the largest c…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 10

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Culture Crush Book Review: The Gate Thief by Orson Scott Card

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Harcover published March 19, 2013 (Tor Books)

Reviewed by Lisa


If you haven't heard of Orson Scott Card, you will soon, as the big budget, by-all-accounts-amazing, movie version of Ender's Game prepares for a Christmas 2013 release. Unfortunately for Mr. Card, anything he publishes in the wake of Ender's Game and associated stories will be held in comparison.

That's just what I'm going to do here. Mr. Card himself is quick to point out in author's notes that he has focused more intently on story structure in recent years, particularly with his Mither Mages trilogy. The first part of the series, The Lost Gate, was published in late 2011, and now, in early 2013, we have The Gate Thief. The Mither Mages trilogy takes the very popular trope of applying well-known gods and goddesses and their stories/attributes to contemporary life... the whole, "what if fairy tales, myths and legends were actually the truth?" approach that has been worked into a whole sle…

20-Minute Shrimp and Couscous With Yogurt-Hummus Sauce

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Recipe courtesy Food Network Kitchens
Prep Time:10 min Inactive Prep Time:5 min Cook Time:5 min Level: Easy Serves: 4 servings
This speedy shrimp dish gets you whole grains, protein, vegetables and fruit all ready to go in 5 minutes (Pro tip: prep the couscous while the shrimp broils.)
Ingredients 1 cup whole wheat couscous 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped (or golden raisins) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup 2-percent plain Greek yogurt 1 tablespoon prepared hummus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill Kosher salt 1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika Juice of 1/2 lemon
Directions Preheat the broiler to high. Combine the couscous, apricots and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups very hot water, cover with plastic wrap and let sit until all of the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir together the yogurt, hummus, mint and 1 to 2 tablespoons water in another bowl. Season …

Hey Sister...

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I have never known your dreams, men you loved or had crushes on, struggles, passions or favorite foods, because we never had a connection, as kids or adults. What would I do differently after all these years of brokenness? I don't know.

I don't know how I could have tweaked a part of me to help our relationship come together or what words I could say now to make a connection. The fact that we've had different lives and have lived them near each other, but so far away emotionally, is a sign that it’s almost impossible to make it work. Would I want it to be different and a closer relationship? Sadly, I'm not sure! I don't know you well enough and the part that I do know is not a person I would want to hang out with or call everyday. I wish I did, in a small way, have a relationship with you and that it was easier to form a bond. But, it has always seemed impossible. We would both have to work at building a healthy relationship and I’ve never gotten the sense that'…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 10

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