After finishing our first month of school, I’m reminiscing about my summer escapes.  I let the kids watch videos longer than they should, to savor a few more words (WTF: Wait ’til finished!)!  Sure, they read books, too, but books feel different when optional vs. requisite!

I’m excited to share this 2nd part of my Summer 2016 reading list. PLUS, one I’m cracking open tonight AND one already Amazon wish-listed – containing unforeseen twists even before creasing the cover. Click on the links to check out the books!


The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

My reading pattern alternates between (or reading concurrently) heavy and light-hearted stories. I visited local Dave’s Used Bookstore and found another Sparks book! Though a fairly recent film release, my #BookBeforeFilm mantra insisted I read this one before watching the film that same weekend. Sparks also wove the characters’ pets into the story, for a warm-fuzzy touch to this heart-squeezing story.


A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

(Daughter’s summer reading assignment #1) – I finished this book with my daughter – 4 years after starting it with my son. I wish I’d read this when I was in elementary school because the technology mentioned wasn’t as real then and IT’s power may have been more frightening. Though, on the heels of another internet security breach, the fear feels real. Movie remake coming soon!


Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton

(Daughter’s summer reading assignment #2) – Mentioning S.E. Hinton’s name makes me giddy a) Because she is female, b) Successful in her teens, c) And, wrote The Outsiders – THE most amazing story and hunk movie of my teenage years.  I feel like Hinton’s characters speak their truth so well, that you can’t help but empathize and join them in their journey – blow by blow.


Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas Sparks and Micah Sparks 

I’m always curious to read different genres of my favorite authors to compare story construction. I thought each chapter would begin “Dear Diary, Today we…” Instead, it revealed their adulthood as a result of their childhood – perhaps many of our childhoods, when kids ran free. It was also exciting for me – as a writer – to learn where his life inspired his books (A Walk To Remember) and how he presented those personal stories.



The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I mentioned starting this book on my Currently – September 2016 list.  Finally I’ll make an honest woman out of me, no kids, red wine, pjs, and grown up book by Jo sounds like the perfect reading environment!


The Cuckoo’s Calling by Richard Galbraith

I salivate over juicy mysteries! This one starts in immediately with the author!  I’m the last person on the planet to learn that Richard is really Jo (see above)!  This set of 3  (and growing – named after the lead character/investigator), The Cormoran Strike series, are giving people chills and a thirst for blood pumping crime series!  

Here are the other two (don’t have to be read sequentially):

bookrgsilk2     bookrgcareer3

Though I can’t keep the summer reading pace during the school year, I hope to read one new one per “Currently” post. I want to hear what you’ve read in the comments below!

1st part of my list is HERE

What about you? What are you reading next?
Did you already know about Richard Galbraith?
Who is your favorite author?
What book is your guilty pleasure?
Are you a daily, nightly, weekly or sporadic reader?
Do you like when books change covers?

#Readabookday #NicholasSparks #MicahSparks #RomanceNovel #SciFi #Murder #Mystery #BookIsBetter #SummerReading #BookClub #TheCuckoosCalling #RobertGalbraith #JKRowling #MadeleineLEngel #SEHinton #Pseudonym #PenName #AWrinkleInTime #TheChoice #ThreeWeeksWithMyBrother #TheCasualVacancy #CuckoosCalling #Silkworm #CareerOfEvil #CormoranStrike #Detective


LMU’s M-School has an amazing class called Personal Branding that I was fortunate to get a peek of today. First of all it’s never too late to reinvent ourselves and secondly, because I’m currently rebranding and rearranging my blog so this class will ask me all the right questions to get a wide perspective of what I want the blog to focus on.

Photo from on her self-reflective post. Inspired me to reflect!


This blog (my third) started in 2012 as a daily writing exercise. Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers preached that 10,000 hours honing my skill would make me a pro so my goal was 365 days of 365 words. Whether or not one agrees with Gladwell, one can’t argue that practice helps as does dedicating regular time to your skill. For a few months I spent 2-3 hours a night pounding out 1,500 words about anything I thought twice about, to later reduce to 365. Things stalled while I gathered application materials for/got into grad school.

Once I got my masters in Communication Management (and realized I am not changing my day job for now) I focused the energy towards rebranding and growing my blog.

Every time I think I have my glittery new focus (MINDFUL MIDLIFE for those still chasing older kids, while chasing down their center so they can remember who they were before kids) then I wanna do a pokemon post or something that demographic doesn’t relate to.


Mayim Bialik had such a refreshing perspective on blogging and branding!

(from Blossom and The Big Bang Theory):
At the Blogher conference she revealed that her team and marketers are constantly asking her to focus, “What is the theme of your blog”? She said, “How about that I’m human and I like to think about a lot of different things?!” Amen, Sistah!

So now, thanks to growing confidence in my “Why” (whole personal branding exercise to be explained later), I need to go through my content and organize it in general categories that will be easy to navigate. The other thing is being regular. With regular content, people will get to know you and your voice, and the kinds of things that you do. Some will eat up every post, some will only love the cooking or whatever, don’t get caught up on the overthinking part. Truly, if you’re producing posts then that is the most important!

Over-thinking leads to writers’ block which leads to crickets and tumbleweeds.

Hey, that’s a cute name for a blog!  #4?!




When first planning a road trip to Vegas, I wanted to break up the drive with stops along the way.

Such a charming town with so much to discover!

During our July trip, knowing we were hours ahead of my family, we pulled off the freeway just a few minutes before Calico Ghost town to kill some time!

The landscape plucks you from now and transports you

Now this here used to be a bustling silver mining town of 3,000 people  that mined $13-20 million in silver and $9 million in borate minerals between 1881 and 1907 (silver stopped being profitable in 1897). When the mines dried up, the folks headed for the wilderness.


Because we arrived early, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Calico House Restaurant. The views from their back porch hinted at other things to do while in town. Their rockers out front and the friendliness of the staff inside slowed our speed from freeways to tumbleweeds.

Town Center is the front porch of the Calico House restaurant.

With stuffed bellies, we moseyed down the road to the gold panning station!

(L) Gold! (R) Swirling slowly to get silt out and gold to stay!

Turns out this was just one of the many adventures in town.

Next time you’ll find us belly up in the town tavern

Thanks to the generosity of their new owner (the Knott’s family), there was a great deal if you planned to visit a few.

While they offer a train trip and a mine tour, we left those for the next time since we had to get back on the road to Vegas (and because my kids are still a bit apprehensive about ghosts)!

Our three thumb review is 3 thumbs waving in the air trying to find our balance in what we unanimously agree was the best surprise: the Mystery House!

Look at the angle of the door frame, kids are walking upright!

My teen son enjoyed repeatedly challenging an optical illusion that gripped our perception! I was totally floored knowing how much your mind could be tricked into believing and my tween daughter loved the extra puns thrown in to really drive that point home.

Wanna see a man eating chicken?

My teen son hinted that he felt like there wasn’t enough to do for kids his age – but I’ll counter that by saying there was a lot that we saved for next time including perusing the graveyard. Plus, I think camping near a ghost town may make teenage hearts pound!

Oh, here’s how hot the World’s largest Thermometer showed it was during our mid-July 6pm drive home.

WTF: Wow, that’s fiery! It was 119 when we arrived!

Elmer you’re next!

#ThreeThumbReviews #Baker #WorldsTallestThermometer #RoadTrip #LasVegas #Calico #Ghosttown #Silver #Mining #LongCut


It always amazes me how quickly time flies. 6 months go by in a flash and half of me feels like I didn’t get anything done and the other half feels reborn or off on a crazy tangent. So here I am again, checking in with myself. If you do this exercise, share your links below!

Though true fall is still two weeks away, I find myself making comfort foods. I blame the pumpkin spice latte for the change in the air and for the city-wide panic that it might rain in the morning (El Niño aftershocks?). I still need to make a pot of Gazpacho to end this delicious summer.

My new bamboo mobile device charger and matching key organizer  that started an organization revolution! These were the first pretty home accessories purchased and affixed to our walls since last year’s flood!  The immediate organization gains were obvious but the unexpected healing of our psyche helped us settle down.

Click descriptions to learn more!

After attending two blogging conferences, I have numerous plans for changes rolling around in my head. Meanwhile, it’s my favorite exercise to figure out ways to work with all sorts of people in a synergistic and symbiotic – an SAT word – way. Full reviews of both conferences coming soon.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
As one of my two favorite living people who astound and inspire me with their ability to create fascinating worlds, I am eager to feel J.K.’s words embrace me in a much more charming locale.


My teen son’s and my tween daughter’s school schedules.  With challenging classes and sports, I feel like every Friday we’ll celebrate surviving the week.  I am panicked and amazed every week at how much they accomplish.

This is Acting  by Sia.
I love that she’s not into celebrity, just into the songs. She performs her own, and writes so much for others. With that knowledge, I have no problems picking out her music when others perform her material.  Love her laugh most of all.


The housing market in my area to stabilizes. The LA Rams rammed the rental rates and house prices up and I’m sitting here quietly trying to stay put.  Though this place saved us, it’s not my favorite, but the options are ridiculous right now.

I love hosting themed events.  For work, we’re hosting a conference but want to give the guests the true California experience. For fun, I’m creating a Vegas Oceans 16 themed event. In true Disney style, creating events that appeal to every sense with unexpected surprises invigorates me.

What about you? Consider these:
Or dream up your own!

#SIA #JKRowling #TheCasualVacancy #IBelieveInDisneyMagic #Vegas #ThemedEvent #organization #clutter #CESupply #BambooChargingStation #BacktoSchool


I’m warning you, it’s gonna get messy. These recipes were created or re-created from my mind. (WTF: Wait – three flavors?!) All  recipes were adapted by and from many cultures. Now that my delicious disclaimers are done, let’s get cooking!


Their dad first made this for my college roommate and me (first and last time he cooked for me). I modified the recipe and wing it every time but my kids want it weekly.

1 box pasta
1 packet artificial crab (or real)
Garlic, chopped or powdered
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)/Butter
Seafood seasoning

Put pasta in salted water at a rolling boil. Lower heat.

Put enough Olive Oil/Butter to keep crab from sticking (I use both to keep either from burning). Over low heat add crab and garlic (and optional seafood seasoning). Warm it up. If it’s sticking, pour in a swig of wine (whatever is open) and cover it.

Cool, Kids, the crab turns purplish when red whine is used

Drain pasta and pour into pan with crab. If needed, drizzle more EVOO so pasta won’t stick (though I rarely do). Serve!
Variations: Use shrimp. Add red bell pepper.


I ate this a lot when training for long-distance races because it’s loaded with carbs, some Lo-fat protein, and some higher-fat protein. This is the only dish I don’t add garlic to but feel free to. This was adapted from my Nana’s Hungarian cooking.

1 box pasta
1 small container cottage cheese
As much chopped bacon as you want without feeling guilty
Fresh parsley

If you need to cook the bacon, follow packages instructions and set aside. Consider oven-cooking it – requires less attention

Put pasta in salted water at a rolling boil. Lower heat.

Drain pasta, add all cottage cheese and bacon.

This time I used up a bag of bacon bits left over from another recipe.

Stir! Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving.
Variations: Use non-fat cottage cheese and really crispy turkey bacon for healthier version. Add chopped poultry or replace bacon with cubed leftover ham.


Love the flavor the next afternoon, reheated at work!

This one I made with my Hungarian grandmother though I was confused because it used American ingredients. This one can be vegetarian, or not, and is great for slipping veggies to your kids. Sometimes, presenting veggies in a different shape than they’ll see in the wild confuses kids into eating them.

One box pasta
1 container broccoli or cole slaw (no dressing)
Either red pepper oil or Sriracha
Garlic, chopped or powdered

Swirl a few circles of oil in fry pan on medium high heat.
Add garlic and slaw. Swirl another circle or two of EVOO.
I add coarse pepper and Sriracha (not necessary if you used spicy pepper oil).
Sauté slaw, stirring frequently.

Between stirs, put pasta in yadda yadda rolling boil, yadda yadda, lower heat.
Drain pasta and pour into pan with slaw. Serve!
Variations: Add sausage (not breakfast links). If cooking cole slaw consider using egg noodles, they’re softer.

Let’s eat!

What are your quick and easy comfort foods?
With pasta or something better?
Have any ideas to make a fancier version of these recipes “for when company comes over”
Have any ideas of a main entree to go with these if you want to downsize it to a side dish?

#Sriracha #Pasta #Seafood #Bacon #Coleslaw #Recipes #EasyRecipes #WeeknightRecipes #ComfortFood #MarathonTraining #CarboLoad


The last night before school started, both kids crammed to finish summer reading assignments.  Though I don’t get summers off, the reprieve from micro-momagering homework allowed me some personal reading time.  So, here’re my book reports (to check the books out, click on the book photos to be teleported to Amazon):

One With You by Sylvia Day

I bought this at Target while waiting to get tires fixed. I didn’t realize this book closed out the sultry Crossfire series. Briefly, I considered holding off on finishing this book to read the first few novels in the series. Honestly, I won’t… for a really stupid reason.  During all the hot scenes, there were lots of fantastic descriptors for the guy’s joystick but called the gal’s thunderdome her “sex.” Boring and irked me.


Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness by Suzy Favor Hamilton 

One of my book-loving friends loaned me this book. This was a fascinating read braiding worlds I’ve never personally experienced: Olympic training, Bi-Polar Disorder and champion Vegas call girl.  I couldn’t put this book down. I felt like she was spilling her heart out to me over coffee so I couldn’t help but stay put and hear her out.


A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

Another book-loving friend loaned me this book when they saw my bullet-journal page I’d created tracking Nicholas Sparks’ books and the few I’d yet to read.  Not sure what took me so long to read this – perhaps because I prefer to read books before seeing the movie. To make up for lost time, I read the book and watched the movie the same weekend!  Those weren’t allergies making my eyes puffy! Very touching too, to learn the inspiration behind this story too in a later book by Sparks…

Night by Elie Wiesel

(Son’s summer reading assignment #1) – This book is powerful, yet the length makes you confident that you’ll survive it with your heart and humanity intact.  This was my 2nd time reading it, the first time after seeing Elie on Oprah.  I wanted to re-read the book to be able to discuss it with my son.  It saddened me to learn that Elie Wiesel passed away while his voice was in my head.

I’m amazed to report, there are more books from my summer reading pile!  Check back in a few days to see what else occupied my mind and to learn the inspiration behind A Walk to Remember!

What did you read this summer?
How’d you hear about the book?
Hard copy or Kindle?
Autobiographical or Fiction?
Books or Movies better?
If I ask you to list what descriptors you would have used in One With You, will that create a whole new set of Adult ads on my page?!

#Readabookday #NicholasSparks #Vegas #Crossfire #Target #BookIsBetter #SummerReading #BookClub #SylviaDay #OneWithYou #ElieWiesel #Night #SuzyFavorHamilton #FastGirl #NicholasSparks #AWalktoRemember #BookReport #TearJerker

HATER REHAB: My hour with Kim Kardashian

I recently gained a new perspective for Kim Kardashian, one of the Key Note Speakers at BlogHer16. Her two mantras were universal and useful.

“Be the best you – do what is within your comfort zone and what makes you feel confident!” 

“More Love, No Hate.” 

We all have a right to define our personal boundaries. We also have a right to our personal reaction when those boundaries are crossed. Sometimes these actions result in a traffic jam of haters.

I’m not just exposing internet trolls here. Everyone’s interacted with at least one other person resulting in our strong reaction to their action: “MFer cut me off!” …or inaction: “Why didn’t they thank me for the date?”

Here’s where it gets all Fox in Socks, while we discuss our actions following our reaction to the other person’s actions.

Reality Check

  • Mind Control – I can’t telekinetically take over their car forcing a safe lane change. Nor will a bird from you make them feel regret. Hateful comments won’t cause Kim to live your definition of life.
  • Assuming, it’s true – You know what they say when someone assumes. We truly have no idea what goes on in others’ lives. Be compassionate with friends, family and strangers – we all carry the burden of our own personal stress and goals. Kim challenges her haters to sit down and talk to her.
  • Don’t Should on Others – This tells more about us than them. Perhaps you’re not feeling like the most confident you, offloading on or trying to control others really won’t improve your mood.
  • What Is My Motivation – Actors question this a lot when considering how to deliver a believable role and speak authentically – as should you when considering your ACTion.
  • Spoon Full of Sugar is BS – Sorry my beloved Mary, P. but sugar coating only makes you feel like you’ve delivered a pretty gift when the recipient can still see the shit through the wrapping.
  • We Have a Right to our Opinion – True, just like we have a right to ignore it.
  • Just don’t Joust – Engaging in battle takes everyone farther from that day’s goals – everyone’s late, flustered, mad and hopefully nothing worse. Kim ignores haters so it’s not their voice she hears, but her own guiding her to be the best her.


Hater Rehab:

  • Was your intended response meant to get respect or get even?
  • To make people feel better or worse?
  • If the latter, for either, is respect deserved?

Unless someone is about to chase their Pokémon into a busy intersection, respect their path. It’s not our place to interject or attempt to convert their reaction to one we are satisfied with.

All together now… we all have a right to our opinions, our reactions to other people’s actions (which we can’t control). We only control and take responsibility for our actions. Nobody makes us feel anything we don’t want to.

That crazy driver didn’t make you mad. You chose to get mad in reaction to a near miss. Did you go on the date so you would get thanks and brownie points or did you go on a date to spend more time with someone you have feelings for? Seen too much of Kim lately? Lest you forgot, you’re in control of how much internet and social media enters your home or the teachable moments (as opposed to swift judgement) that can result.

Finally, she shared how she and her husband Kanye have helped bring out the best in each other – which is what loved ones do. As Kim will tell you, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself!





The next time The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus passes through your town, here’s why you absolutely must get up off the couch and see this show! I was fortunate enough to see the World Premiere in Los Angeles. While Feld Entertainment (producers of the show) promised it’d be better than ever, since retiring their trademark elephants, I am here to say they slightly missed their mark. They didn’t just “do better,” they launched their circus into a new dimension light years away! The show is truly Out of this World.  
The Ringling Bros. put on a tremendous show for a hometown price. From the first dramatic moment when the Simet Spacewalkers demonstrated graceful balance and agility while seemingly space walking in zero gravity, I held my breath. Their otherworldly skills drew us in for an unbelievable treat!   Suddenly the planets burst revealing contortionists inside as color, motion and music pulsed through every inch of the room, from floor to ceiling! Suddenly there are no rings, no boundaries, no pre-conceived notions!    To help us travel safely through this new uncharted outer space, we follow the story of Paolo who searches the galaxy in search of performers worthy of joining The Greatest Show on Earth®! However, he has an adversary in the form of an intergalactic circus queen who is keen on building The Greatest Show of any Galaxy!
 Immediately some stars take sides with dramatically different outcomes. Then the race begins to visit the many planets to round up the various stellar circus acts.   Many acts seem comfortably familiar and expected for a circus until you realize the performers blew the top off and flew to a higher level!

Trampoline acrobats and stilt walkers circle the ring… on ice skates; more motorcyclists than should fit together race… inside a small metal spherical cage; clowns juggle rings… while upside down; human pyramids form… while on horseback thundering around the ring.   Finally, their app! So fun, it lets you know what’s coming and entertains during downtime. My favorites are the photo booth and unscrambling games!

Me, fulfilling my life-long dream to be a circus clown! They ran the show!

Ringling Bros is near Los Angeles until August 7 so get tickets now! For a discount, check the events page


WTF: Way Too Funtastic!PokeGoLogo

Before night falls, there is a good chance you will cross paths with Pokémon Go, and ponder whether to wander along after it.  I never watched or played Pokémon (gasp!), but became hooked by the funtastic AR (augmented reality) app upon spotting my first Pokémon. Follow me…

*Topics with an asterisk will be discussed in a future post – coming soon! If you have specific questions, leave them in the comments below!


When app opens you’ll see a cartoon GPS map of where you’re standing, except the app reveals things you’ve never seen before. Whoa!



LOOK LIKE: A little blue table with a blue cube floating above it. Click on them to see what landmark it features. As you get closer, it opens up to a rotating, blue flat Pokémon ball.
WHADDYA DO: Click to open it, then swipe to spin the center part with the picture. When things pop out of the ball, tap them to store in your bag*. These items help you catch or battle Pokémon*.
TIP: When purple, you’ve already collected items-come back later.

LOOK LIKE: Towering helipad with red, yellow or blue* spotlights and a Pokémon on top.
: Until you hit Level 5, nothing*. You can click on these and remember their locations.

LOOKS LIKE: Small bunch of green confetti – appears sporadically.
WHADDYA DO: This indicates a Pokémon’s arrival, so safely make your way towards the green leaves.
TIP: On the bottom right of the screen you’ll see 3 Pokémons on a white strip. Tap on that to see several Pokémon with footprints that are nearby. As you walk closer, the number of feet will go down.

LOOKS LIKE: Pink confetti (Appears for up to 30 min.). PokeGopost1stops
WHADDYA DO: This was a Lure Module activated by another player to lure Pokémon here. Hang out, you’ll catch a bunch! You, too, have a lure module in your bag* to activate a Pokéstop. Other players see it and show up.


TIP: Catch multiples of Pokémon to help evolve them to stronger Pokémon*.

Walk, run, or drive (put down phone while moving)! If you walk, you may meet other players! There are game benefits of walking*.



  • Look both ways before crossing streets
  • Travel with a pack of friends or parent
  • Don’t go into isolated places or strangers’ homes



Please share if you have a friend trying to get into the game but you don’t have time to stop and explain it to them because you have Pokémon to catch!

#PokemonGo #Nintendo #Niantic Labs #Pokémon #PokémonGoApp #PokemonGoDown


Logo RBBB 146 Out Of This World_FINAL

This week, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey (RBBB) celebrates their 146th year of wow-ing audiences by launching The Greatest Show on Earth!® to a new dimension: Out of This World! Few long-lasting well-loved brands or shows last through decades, much less generations, because of how quickly tastes change. Yet Ringling Bros. manages to remain a family custom by honoring their traditions, feeling the hearts of their guests and creatively redefining themselves. We’re fortunate to have the world-premiere here in Los Angeles on Thursday July 14 – but check to find out when they’re rocketing to you!


Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the elephants have left the circus tent. Animal care was always a priority with Ringling Bros. and they entrusted their elephants with the best professionals in veterinary and elephant care, as well as educated the public on elephant conservation. Still, due to public grumbling over perceived issues with their elephant’s treatment, they retired them from the show. Though the elephants were a traditional part of the show, the numerous remaining traditions will lead Ringling Bros. to new dimensions.


In Ringling Bros. tradition, they promise to deliver a show with the same awe-inspiring acrobatics, exhilarating equestrians, beautifully big cats, death-defying daredevils and much more to keep your jaw open in amazement!  Some intangible, but definitely noticeable, traditions are the presence of 2nd or 3rd generation performers so the show has the same comfortable feel we’re used to – despite suddenly expanding their acts to all-new playing fields!


To keep up with today’s hi-tech society, this circus promises a more interactive and immersive story experience and less of a, well, 3-ring circus. Amazing electronic screens and a colorful ice surface grabbing guests’ attention pulling us into the amazing story of good vs. evil told while exploring extraordinary new worlds on distant planets of ice, fire, sand and water.  The audience will witness an aerial “space walk” in zero-gravity, a clown performing his antics on a pole 5 stories up, and Chinese acrobatics – while on ice skates.


How cool is this, too, that Ringling Bros. launches their new space show only 9 days after spaceship Juno landed on Jupiter?!  Gives me a kizmetingle…  

For a discount code for ordering your tickets, click here!


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