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Showing posts from September, 2013

Grateful Mondays

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If your family is like mine, you’ll agree that Mondays are the hardest day of the week!  The kids are groggy, my husband is trying to get going, but gets in my way, and the kids and I are unwilling to move fast enough to get anything accomplished. Starting off the week on a bad note is what I try to avoid at all cost, and since my kids are almost always cranky because they have to go to school, and they can’t find just about anything that has to do with getting ready for school, it’s a very hard thing to do.  So I try to be as gentle as I can about getting going but it’s a major challenge, especially because I’m tired and cranky too. 
At times, I get the Monday blues, my husband is off to work and the kids are off to school, and I don’t have a bone in my body that wants to move along, so I can cook, clean, and go grocery shopping.  So I decided to start my grateful Mondays, starting off with being grateful for being able to write this blog! I'm so grateful for my beautiful family w…

Week after chemo – Allie’s journey

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Hours after Allie’s 1st chemo appointment, she was extremely sick, vomiting and unable to keep food down. Three days went by and she was still vomiting and had a high fever.  Finally, on Tuesday, she was able to keep food down and the nausea was gone!!  Allie was still very tired and feeling overwhelmed by the whirlwind that her diagnosis brought, including all the insurance paperwork and disability paperwork that needs to be fill out.  I stopped by to see her on Tuesday and was hopeful that she would be her upbeat self and she was!  I know things will change later on but she was feeling better than she had in days and that’s what mattered. 
Allie showed me this wig her daughter begged her to buy for $60!  Considering the price, a total wig and hair extension novice that I am, thought it was very expensive considering it’s not great looking.  The wig was on a papier-mâché head that her daughter had put together for Allie to place her new wig on it!  Surprise…I wanted to take a pictu…

Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

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Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Culture Crush Music: An Interview With Cellist Jodi Burnett, Part 1

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Los Angeles-based cellist Jodi Burnett sits down with aspiring young cellist Maya and answers all her questions about being a working studio musician and the effort it took to get there. We get a glimpse of the more intimate aspects of a this creative and unique musician's life, from growing up in Los Angeles with parents who were also musicians, to her life now as an established and sought after professional cellist.


If you had to give your younger cello student self advice - what advice would you give her?
I would tell her to be patient. Real progress takes time. This isn’t easy, but it’s more rewarding in ways that you can’t imagine.


What inspired you to play cello?
I always knew I had a musical talent. I always loved to sing in school choirs, and when I was eight years old, I started learning how to play the guitar. When I was about twelve years old, a friend of the family that played cello the professionally gave me an introductory lesson, just for fun. Soon after that, a cell…

At-Home Energy Drink

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Dr. Oz's At-Home Energy Drink

If your kids need an energy boost, skip sugary store-bought energy drinks and make this instead. It's full of nature's best energy source: greens! The fruit and yogurt mask the bitterness of the kale, making this shake a great way to feed greens to picky eaters.
Ingredients 1 cup baby kale 1 cup raspberries, frozen 1 cup almond milk 1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
Directions Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

First round of chemotherapy for Allie

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This past Friday, was the first round of chemotherapy for my friend Allie (stage 2 breast Cancer).  She’s an extremely strong woman and has never felt the need to rely on others, especially for her first chemo appointment.  Her doctor suggested that she’d let her 11 year-old daughter attend the appointment, so she could see what chemo entails, Allie’s mom also accompanied her (she reluctantly allowed them).  As for me, I made it my business to show up to support her, with my pink signs that read I’m with a Survivor, a tiara and a staff in-tow, I thought it would create a little bit of lightness for her appointment.  I was stressed and very sad while driving to the Cancer Center, I wasn’t sure what to expect, or how I would feel while there.  I cried a little in the parking lot before entering the center, I wanted to make sure I let out a little steam before seeing her.
When I walked in, there were about 8 people hooked up to machines!  I couldn’t make eye contact because I feared tha…

How do we bring awareness to pedestrian safety?

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Cars zoom by at 40 mph in front our school!  Parents honk at each other, frantically when they don’t get their way.  Other parents stop in the middle of the street, waiting for their children to get in or out of the car, instead of parking their cars, blocking traffic, and creating an unsafe way for other cars to get around them.  Could it be that our laws fail to create serious consequences for unsafe driving around schools?  Would a steeper fine stop you from speeding down streets where there are a lot of pedestrians?  I don’t know what the answer is, but I would love to create a movement to help bring awareness to this unsafe epidemic of unsafe, high-speed, careless drivers.
Just last week, a car hit a parent that was walking home after dropping off his children, just one block away from school!  The car left the scene with many witness watching the entire accident happen.  Every single morning in the news, there are many stories of hit-and-run accidents.  How did this epidemic co…

Quote of the Day

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Quote Of The Day

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If not now, when?

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Starting off the week yelling at my kids because their chores haven’t been done, is not the way I like to start my day or week, but here I am again, reminding my two kids of all the chores they “forget” to do.  I wish they would remember their chores as well as they do their lists of demands of things they would like me to do for them.  I get asked for “hangouts”, tweens don’t like the word play date anymore!  The kids want to go buy stuff at Target, baseball card shop, meet their friends at the ice shop, etc.  They expect my full-undivided attention and time, to handle their entire social needs but they don’t earn the rights to it. 
I must admit, I’m a lightweight when it comes to punishing my kids, so they get away with a lot, that is until I blow a gasket and halt all social activities because they’ve pushed my last button.  When this happens, the kids are startled and completely surprised that I’ve lost my cool!  It is my responsibility to make sure that my kids learn to be resp…

Culture Crush Throwback Thursday: Martinis & Bikinis by Sam Phillips

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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 Sam Phillips' Martinis & Bikinis.

By Lisa

Recorded in Los Angeles and produced by then-husband T Bone Burnett, Martinis & Bikinis meshes Sam Phillips' soul-piercing voice with bluesy rock and roll. This album of 13 songs was released in 1994, and features a stellar cast of notable musicians, including special appearances by Peter Buck, Benmont Tench, Mark Ribot and Van Dyke Parks. Mr. Parks also wrote the arrangement for the Sid Page Strings on "Baby, I Can't Please You."

Martinis & Bikinis was instrumental in solidifying the Sam Phillips' sound, and this particular album draws from a great deal of John Lennon/Beatles songwriting influence. Ms. Phillips even covers "Gimme Some Truth." Well-crafted songs and a rolicking sound, that can be both light and guttural, are hallmarks of Martinis & Bikinis. While I l…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Culture Crush Book Review: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

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Hardcover published November 3, 2009 (Harper)

By Lisa

From the start, let's get one thing clear, The Lacuna is my favorite Barbara Kingsolver novel to date. While many authors have continued to publish fictionalized stories about famous historical persons, or individuals close to those persons, to the point of glut and overkill, The Lacuna is one novel that gets it right.

The reader follows the boyhood and eventual life story of the central character Harrison Shepard, a one-time cook and assistant in the Diego Rivera - Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky households. After making his way to the U.S. and enjoying success as a writer of Mexican historical novels, we see glimpses of Shepard's life well-lived via his journals and newspaper articles, collected and retold by his dedicated assistant Mrs. Brown.

Ms. Kingsolver crafts a rich and lyrical tale, filled with history, art, political drama and personal discovery. Instantly engaging and intriguing, this is how you make up an alterna…

Cancer…need I say more?

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My close friend, Allie, was diagnosed with breast cancer last week.  Devastated can’t fully describe how I felt when I found out.  I’ve known this amazing woman for more than ten years!  Our close group of five friends, get together for dinner and drinks once a month, during the few hours that we are together, we talk about what’s going on in our lives. This past week, all the memories of our decade long friendship flooded back before me.  All the worries that we ever talked about involved money, our sanity that was challenged by our kids everyday, life and relationships, not whether one of us was going to be in the fight of her life!
I was annoyingly positive, I told her that she is going to beat it, and it’s going to be fine.  I still believe that with every ounce of me, but I worry about the toll that it’s going to take on her.  Beating any type of cancer is an uphill battle, except, I don’t want her to have an uphill battle.  I want her and all cancer patients to wake up without …

Quote of the day

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Quote of the day

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They love me, they love me naught!

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While I parked and walked my son half block to the school gate, I lectured him about not tying his shoes tight enough, turning in the lunch check so he can buy lunch today, to not forget to get bring home his homework, etc.  I then had to stop to listen to a mom letting her kid have it for forgetting something at home.  Seriously?  I didn’t realize how badly I needed to know that I wasn’t the only mom lecturing her kid.  I always feel like my kids are the only ones who forget everything!
My husband always says that I should just let the kids forget things and see what happens…as if!  What will happen is that I will be at the grocery store or taking a shower or here’s a concept…working on my projects.  I will have to stop and drive to the school to drop off whatever was forgotten, or to pick up one of them for hurting themselves while running with un-tied shoe laces, or not feeling well because they didn’t have lunch, because they forgot to drop off the check to the school office befo…

Culture Crush Throwback Thursday: Nevermind by Nirvana

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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 Nevermind by Nirvana.

By Lisa

Nirvana's In Utero celebrated its 20 anniversary release just a few days ago, and while that album continued the Nirvana legacy of stellar songwriting and lovely noise, let's put the needle on the record that started it all, at least in the public eye.

Nevermind's release and subsequent storming of the video and music world of the early 1990s changed rock music for the better, and none too soon. Hard rock was dying an ugly death at the time, beset by musicians and record labels flogging a tried and true musical style to pieces. Populated by caricatures, masquerading as rockers, popular rock seemed to be eating itself alive. All the new rock bands were so boring and playing the same melodic song structures, complete with vocal shrieks. I was there. I remember. It was sad.

And then, Nirvana's video for "Smells …

Life is Full of pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Culture Crush Travel: Red Rock Canyon

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By Lisa

Located 25 miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is where residents and tourists alike go to play in the great outdoors, when in Sin City. A favorite of bikers and hikers, Red Rock Canyon can even be enjoyed by armchair adventurers from the air-conditioned comfort of a vehicle. The 13-mile scenic loop, with pull-offs and trailheads every mile or so, is well-maintained and an enjoyable way to spend a morning or afternoon.

For the more serious, hiking trails abound, but require a significant time commitment of at least 1-2 hours for the shorter trails. Several hours and several miles are more common for the trails, but the scenery is amazing and worth the time investment. However, in the summer and even into early fall, weather can be way too hot to enjoy hiking comfortably or safely.

On a drive or hike around the Canyon, you may encounter wild burros, bighorn sheep, coyotes and snakes, among other wild animals. The intense geography of rock and sc…

Between a rock and a grateful place...the choice is yours.

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Truth be told, even with self-help books, weekly therapy sessions and the willingness to become a better person everyday, challenging people and situations come along and they’re not easy to handle.  The challenges are bumps on the road, or as I like to call them ‘people who allow to derail’ my plans to have a day without drama and chaos.  It’s true that we allowpeople to make us upset, we allow the insults to get to us.  Most people that have been miserable, mean and jerks for a long time, most definitely will and know how to push other peoples’ buttons.  So what’s a rookie like myself to do when I meet, interact or have to deal with a seasoned pro who has been making themselves and others miserable for years?  It sounds easy to do, but it really isn’t…(STF) stop, take a deep breath, and focus on thanking God (insert your choice of belief here) for everything you see around you.  Thank you for my shoes, a phone, my purse, freedom, or whatever comes to mind.

It took me a few months…

Quote of the day

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Quote of the day

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Quote of the day

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Chicken-and-Cheese Enchiladas

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Bestie tip: You can also boil the tomatillos until the tomatillos are light green (2-3 minutes.)
Chicken-and-Cheese Enchiladas Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 15 min Level: Easy Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients 1 small red onion, halved 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed 1 to 2 serrano chile peppers, stemmed and seeded 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth Kosher salt Pinch of sugar 8 corn tortillas 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella and/or Monterey Jack cheese 1/3 cup fresh cilantro 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing 3/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese Directions Preheat the broiler. Slice half of the onion into thin rings and set aside. Place the other onion half, tomatillos and serranos on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until the vegetables are soft and slightly brown, 7 to 10 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer the vegetables and any liquid to a blender, add the broth and puree. Season with 1/2 …

Culture Crush Throwback Thursday: All Shook Down by The Replacements

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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 All Shook Down by Minneapolis punk rock storytellers, The Replacements.

By Lisa

One of the best bands EVAH, The Replacements sound as current today in the 2010s as they did 30 years ago. While it was a little hard to pick a favorite LP to highlight from the group's plethora of albums - today's favorite is the later version of The Replacements (heavily Westerberg-influenced) and All Shook Down, released in 1990. Remember when LPs used to be chock-full of great songs, different moods and ideas? When an LP really meant Long-Player... and the accepted goal was to produce a Long-Player's worth of terrific songs?

From the first sound, Paul Westerberg's spangly guitar chord, on "Merry Go Round," you know this album's gonna rock. Every single track rocks. Favorites, in addition to the first song: "Nobody,""Sadly Beautiful…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Culture Crush Book Review: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

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Hardcover published July 6, 2012 (Harper Perennial)

By Lisa

Take one beautiful blond, unknown actress, add a mysterious illness and her arrival on the comically-named Porto Vergogna, mix with a young Italian penzione owner, under the backdrop of the tumultuous Cleopatra in 1962, and you have the thread of the story behind Beautiful Ruins. Woven throughout the tale are other lives, other times, brought to a contemporary conclusion, most touching in some way on this Hollywood world of making movies.

The book uses the now-growing-old trope of some secret story involving real-life famous people, living and/or dead. Usually, the famous names are dead, so they can't complain or dispute the possibility of the tale. Written by Jess Walter, this book is okay. It's a decent read. It's not terrible. But, I found my attention wandering far too often. I got bored. I finished the book after what seemed like pages of tiresome dialogue and confusing scenes that jumped around between unrel…

Mean spirited or Cranky old lady? You be the judge...

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My great-aunt Carmela has opinions about every single person’s life!  She recently saw some young adults (I assumed) covered in tattoos, and she said, “I despise people like that!!” so I asked, like what?  With a really angry tone she said, “those people that get tattoos all over their bodies are horrible people for doing it, I wouldn’t want to know them!”  All of Carmela’s children have at least 3 tattoos!!  In a smart-alecky way I said, “so, you hate all of your children?  Because they all have tattoos too!”  She quickly snapped and said that’s different because they were young and stupid!  Really?  Because those kids we saw are also young, so does that mean that they should get a pass too? 
Can you tell that Carmela annoys me all the time? She ALWAYS makes blanket statements about groups of people that she “hates because…..”   I always call her on it because I feel that she should know that she’s being very judgmental and close-minded.  In a sense, I’m being judgmental about her …