Blogger’s Block

I’ve sat at this spot many times before…

“Add New Post.”

Racking my brain for ideas…

What do I post about?

Since moving to Los Angeles almost two years ago, I’ve probably written a couple dozen blog posts and that’s it. Pretty pitiful.

I feel like I’ve lost my way in the blogosphere. I started off by writing about New York City restaurants, where some of you may have first met/discovered me and my blog. I had a niche, though even back then, my posts were not as frequent as I would have liked.

I came to L.A. thinking I’d do the same thing, so I tacked on “…Goes Hollywood” in an ode to Gidget. But life has changed. Now we’re lucky to eat out once a week. And when I do go to a nicer establishment, I’m not motivated to write about the meals like I did religiously in New York.

I just received an e-mail from wordpress.com telling me my domain name is set to expire in a couple of months. Do I let the Apple expire, too?

I think perhaps it’s time to hang up the old blog for a new one. Like REALLY new. Name, look, content, everything. A place that fits my lifestyle now. I think the Apple has had its time and like I spring-cleaned the apartment, it’s time to do dust off the blog-webs, too.

If you’re reading this, send me your thoughts. Name ideas. Suggestions. Anything under the sun. We heart comments.

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Sew Into Spring!

My First Bag

MaineMan and I have been talking about sewing bags for some time now. Rather than leave all the pressure on him, I decided it was high time I take a lesson. He tried on a few occasions to teach me but there’s something about learning a skill from a significant other that doesn’t quite work. I found myself getting more frustrated with him than the machine, which isn’t healthy for either of us, so off to Lincoln Fabrics I went.

My instructor Rebecca/Becca was a real gem. She said she’s only been sewing for four or five years, but she is a master. Check out her website Hiccup Fashion. Throughout the entire lesson I just kept telling her how amazed I was that I could actually sit down and do this.

I picked out some sunny material and we were off and running. She told me it was addicting and she was right. Now I’m wandering around the house looking for loose/unused items of clothing/material to see what I can make next.

I just texted MaineMan, “What’s my next project?”

It’s raining here in Los Angeles so it’s a perfect SIY day.

Happy Sunday!

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Essentials for the New Vegetarian

We recently had drinks with friends and MarineMom was excited to tell me she’d cut out red meat from her diet.

“That’s awesome!!! You can totally do it!”

“I’m a little nervous, it’s only been three days, but I don’t eat that much meat anyway,” she said.

“I’m so happy. You’ll be able to do it no problem. I was the opposite. I LOVED steak and I could still do it,” I said.

“You kind of inspired me so thank you!” she added with a big smile.

“That’s so awesome. Yay! I was inspired, too, by a friend from New York,” I said, remembering my pow-wows with Winette. She would insist on me ordering steak, meat and seafood, despite her being a 100% vegetarian (I still eat fish, so technically I’m a pescetarian). If she’s reading this I think she’ll be thrilled to know I’m spreading the love.

I assured MarineMom her life was not ending and that she’d still be able to eat heartily and happily without steaks and burgers. She told me her husband kept saying, “Well I’m not gonna do it!” And I told her of course you can’t expect that, or want that. I never pressured MaineMan to eat like I do, but through osmosis he’s just begun to eat less meat and he’s fine with it.

In honor of a new friend going meatless, I decided to do a little slideshow of some of my basic vegetarian meals/supplies from the grocery store. You don’t need to be a master chef to go vegetarian, but a few basics will help if you’re interested. Even if you’re not, maybe try and join in on Meatless Monday (if Mario Batali can do it, so can you) and pick up some of these fun products to consume once a week instead of chicken and/or beef.

I buy some of these items at Costco and some at my local grocery. I’m sure you’ll be able to find some version of them in your neck of the woods.

Happy vegetarian eating! Click on a few recipes below the slideshow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*Vegetarian chili recipe, Zone version

*Eggplant parmesan recipe, Food52

*Beet salad recipe, Jennifer Spaide’s recipe of Simplicious Magazine

*Freekeh recipe sample

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Janet Evans’ Comeback Not Just for Olympic Gold

I love this woman.

Always have.

Ever since I understood what the Olympics meant.

Like a singer who listened to Whitney Houston’s National Anthem over and over again to psych them up for a performance (guilty!), I watched countless tapes/hours of Janet Evans zipping through the pool at the Olympics like a flying fish. I studied her stroke and wanted to mimic her style on and off the pool deck. I even chopped my hair once to look like her.

I can’t remember who gave me an autographed photo of her, it may have been a former Canadian Olympian Karen Ward who used to swim at our pool in New Canaan, Conn., but Evans was my hero.

Like many swimmers, Evans enjoyed the spotlight during Olympic years, and pretty much vanished back into obscurity when the Games ended. Michael Phelps has kind of broken this trend, though I challenge anyone who’s not competing themselves to name the last meet he swam in. We follow Phelps when he dates a new hottie or gets caught with a bong. I went to Evans’ website and in addition to being a full-time mom, she’s a motivational speaker. I follow her on Twitter and she’s waking up at 5 a.m., like so many of us did over the course of our swimming careers, to get in the best shape she can before Olympic Trials (June 25 – July 2 in Omaha, Neb).

Is she off her best times from 1996? Probably. Is she going to make the Olympics? Perhaps not. But for once, someone’s not in it to win it, and it’s kind of refreshing.

I know, I know, this sounds totally absurd, but as she said in the great New York Times piece, “It’s not about making the Olympics,” she said. “It’s about my body being able to do things that my mind is telling it to do.”

I love this mantra. And though I still have a few years to go before 40 hits me (it’ll be here faster than I know — 21 still feels like it was yesterday), I can totally relate to her attitude. A former teammate of mine from Virginia and devout reader of my blog is in training for a half-Ironman. She’s found discipline again, almost a decade after swimming ruled our lives.

It feels right and it is empowering in ways I never realized when I was ‘younger,'” she wrote.

I haven’t found my “Olympics” or Ironman yet, but I plan on looking for it this year. Right now I walk my dog and a few others for Rascals, Inc., but I’m not doing anything physical or challenging for myself.

Thank you, Janet, for reminding us, to get after it. That age doesn’t matter, and that we don’t have to win the race to be fulfilled.

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What We’ve Been Up To

So much for dedicating more time to the Apple in 2012. Funny how fast I fail at any type of resolution.

You know it’s bad when your biggest supporter leaves a comment, “UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!” Sorry, Danica.

Starting my own business has proven to be challenging, exhilarating, nerve-wracking and rewarding all at the same time. I wrote on a pet sitting site the other day that the hours I’m putting in right now are more than I worked in both of my previous jobs. I’m going 100 miles per hour, seven days a week, but I am kind of loving it.

If I’m not out consulting with a new client, or visiting an old one, I’m on the computer trying to balance the business and all our social media profiles. I have a bookmark checklist of sites I go to every day to either update information or to fine tune it. Check Rascals, Inc. out here, here, here and here. I started blogging about pet news on the site, so even if you’re not in the area, you can still visit Rascals, Inc. for cute and fuzzy pet photos and stories. Not to mention the profiles I’ve created on sites like Sittercity.com and Care.com where I reply to requests for pet sitting gigs. It’s like a reverse Craigslist.

Almost every day someone recommends a site to me to sign up on (DogVacay.com and TaskRabbit.com, to name a couple). I love discovering more networks because the more people that see Rascals, Inc. the better. And now that I have stickers on my car (pictures to come, promise), I’m hoping more and more people are checking us out.

“So, when can I retire?” asks MaineMan.

I keep telling him not to get too carried away,  but I appreciate his enthusiasm.

Apart from hyper-focusing on Rascals, Inc. and expanding my client list, MaineMan and I have had many adventures so far this year. Below are some of the highlights:

MaineMan’s parents stayed with us for two weeks and spoiled us with dinners and fun activities. We rang in the New Year at Disney, escaped to Catalina for the day, drove up to Mammoth where we skied and ate our way through town (and Yosemite).

The week they left a close friend from Virginia Swimming days came out with her boyfriend and we enjoyed a couple of fun meals together before lighting up the dance floor and party at Drai’s of the W Hotel in Hollywood. We all felt like big ballers that night.

We celebrated MaineMan’s birthday up at Leo Carillo. He knew we were going camping for two nights, but he had no idea we were camping with a few of our closest friends. The surprise camping weekend was a hit, and despite eight hours of rain one night after we hit the tents, we were able to enjoy a couple of beach walks and S’mores.

The week after my friend BYOWino came for a week. We enjoyed the beach, a hike in Malibu, walks with Agnes and yet another Disney adventure.

My friend from ABC News, SirDatesALot, now of the Associated Press, had a night to kill so we took him to A Frame and Waterloo and City. Lucky for us we live across the street from two hip/essential L.A. dining spots.

CalGal is in Southern California for a couple of weeks and we got a great hike in up at Rustic Canyon. If you haven’t been it’s a beautiful hike, just look out for rattlesnakes.

We had a weekend here to relax (GO GIANTS!) and then we headed up to Carmel to visit my mom and to attend the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. We bumped into Tiger Woods, Bill Murray, Josh Duhamel, Phil Mickelson, Tony Romo, Ray Romano, George Lopez and Andy Garcia, to name a few. I got my mom a high-five from Duhamel and a signature from Chris O’Donnell. In the photo below Murray is second from the left in a 3D camouflage suit. It was a wonderful trip, and my only complaint is it was too short and we left Tucker up there to stay with his real mom for a month.

This weekend we are heading to Calico for Civil War Days.

“Civil War in California?” My mom asked.

“Yup! I guess so, should be interesting,” I said.

More pix to come. And hopefully more posting here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy New Year!

It’s Sunday, but as far as this household goes, it’s our first day “back to work.” Or for some of us, it’s time to recover from the whirlwind of holiday activity. I put “back to work” in quotes because unlike MaineMan, my work is at home with Agnes and an afternoon Corona (from time to time). MaineMan actually had to wake up to an alarm this morning, pack his lunch, put on his uniform and face a 30-minute commute. Those days for me are over, and I have to say I am thankful.

MaineMan’s parents fly back to Vermont early tomorrow morning, and they’re leaving behind a kitchen stacked with food, many exciting memories and a puppy who’s enjoyed being spoiled by not two, but four sets of hands. Agnes is going to wake up tomorrow and wonder what happened to her extra walks and extra laps on the couch.

We have had an absolute blast and it’s going to be awfully quiet this week. That means a lot more time to focus on a few things: writing here on my blog, editing my kid’s book and figuring out the “what’s next?” strategy for my sitting business, Rascals, Inc. I’m going to try and walk you through the process of starting up a business so in case any of you are inspired, I may be able to offer some guidance and (non-) expertise.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and that 2012 has started off with a bang. It certainly has here.

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12 Days of Christmas: Gift Guide Countdown, Day 1

My apologies for leaving anyone who was following my gift guide countdown hanging.

Things got a little out of control/frenzied around here. We had three dogs running up and down the stairs wanting to play, three different bathroom schedules, a big cat stalking anyone in the kitchen who might open the fridge, and finally my boyfriend’s parents arrived from Vermont. They will be with us for two weeks and we have many fun adventures planned, including a day trip to Catalina and a ski trip to Mammoth.

MaineMan’s mom is furiously making us dinner downstairs — the second day in a row of her home-cooked meals — YAY ME! — and I’m finally sitting down at my new iMac to write a finale post to my countdown, despite it being nearly three days late and the holiday season of gift-giving being officially over. That is, if you aren’t returning gifts from relatives who failed to interpret your unique sense of style at the shopping mall.

While I was building this year’s gift guide, I failed to come up with a jaw-dropping final post. I couldn’t pick any store or website as my all-time favorite. Then when I opened my Christmas presents I was inspired to share a few faves with you all, in case you didn’t know these brands.

My mom surprised me with a pair of P.J. Salvage pajama pants. It doesn’t get any softer or better than their pajamas. Similar to how I felt when I wore my first Hanky Pankys, I do not ever care to wear another pair of no-name flannel pajamas. If they’re not P.J. I won’t be in them. In addition to the pajamas, my mom and I fell in love with a pair of boots from Sorel in Wilton at their Outdoor Sports Center. The salesman’s eyes left his head when I told him I wanted to wear these furry suckers in Los Angeles.

“LOS ANNNNNGELES?”

“Yup. It gets cold there in the winter.”

Anyhoo, check out these Joan of Arctic boots (Joan, apres Jeanne d’Arc, happened to be my confirmation name). I’m in love with the boots and I’ve been proudly sporting them on all of our puppy nighttime walks.

Just because it’s the last day of the gift/giving countdown doesn’t mean you get to stop looking for ways to give your time and/or money to charity. Today’s suggestion for donations is Coca Cola’s Arctic Home campaign, in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund. Every time I see a commercial or nature show with polar bears I cry (similar to my reaction to Sarah McLachlan’s commercial for the ASPCA). I literally have to turn my head away because seeing what these animals are going through is just too painful for me to watch. Whether you believe in global warming and its impact on our civilization, there is no disputing that the polar bear has lost countless square miles of its habitat. Unless you’re Santa Claus or an Arctic explorer, chances are you won’t see one in the wild in your lifetime, so go to the Arctic Home website. It’s really well done and there are some cool video/tracking features where you can click on polar bears and capture a video of them in action.

Not inspired by my suggestions over the past 12 days? I’d love to hear what does inspire you. I always love learning new things and new ways to support those in need.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season so far. We still have New Year’s Eve to look forward to, so no getting the post-holiday blues yet! If you haven’t been, please check out my company website Rascals, Inc. We got new logos over the break and I’ve gotten to implement one in the header.

Previous days of gift/giving suggestions:

Duncraft
/LLS
Daytrip Society/ Livestrong
Etsy/AHeirloom / Action Against Hunger
C. Wonder / Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue
Made / Pilots N Paws
Linus Bikes / National Wildlife Federation
Uncommon Goods / California Wildlife Center
Iomoi / Fran Crippen Elevation Foundation
Heath Ceramics / The Gentle Barn
Hipcycle / Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
Mxyplyzyk / Hope for Heddy

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