Thursday, November 12, 2009

a month of thanks, day three (on day four...oops)

is there a way to back-track a blog post? cuz i'd sure love to pretend i didn't forget to blog yesterday but wait, i did.
yesterday and today and every day, i'm thankful for: my job.

yup, i said it... it has its tough moments, challenges, politics, gossip, morons, white trash, smelly people, stress, gray hairs and days where i sometimes think i'd rather be anywhere else. but the truth of the matter... the really big picture... is that i'm blessed to be doing something i love, advocating for children (albeit indirectly) and getting to use my creative license to make things happen for over 400 charities across the country. i've had experiences in the last 5 (eeeeek!) years that some will never have in a lifetime, and i'm grateful for that. when i move on from this place, i know i'll appreciate the person it has made me.
phew. that was kinda tough.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

a month of thanks, day two

today i'm thankful for: pandora.
i can't imagine a better way to get through the work day than to have a customized playlist of songs - new, old, and never-before-heard - streaming for eight solid hours. you can bookmark your favorite artists, check out other listeners' playlists, and give songs a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" that clues the station in to whether or not you want to hear it again. you can even mix it up and select various types of music to hear throughout the day.
in case you missed it, i'm blogging a month of thanks. check out my first post here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

a month of thanks

nine days in to the month, i was inspired by several other blogs to celebrate the season by blogging every day during this "month of thanks". every day i stop and think about things i'm thankful for, so why limit that to my own thoughts? i'm going to try and share it with the interwebs and if i inspire just one other person to reflect in this way, my job is dunzo.

today i'm thankful for: water.

why water?
...why not?

don't ever underestimate its power! one billion people in this world don't have water. that's one in six of us.

one of my favorite charities in the world is called charity: water. they have a simple mission - to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. what they've done in a few short years is astounding and at the center of it all, they're providing one of the most basic human needs to the most desperate of people. the photos and stories that come out of charity: water are incredible.

so go have a glass and enjoy every last sip of it... because you can.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

keep your chin up, darlin'...

I read this quote last night and loved it, so forgive the sarcastic image that accompanies it... but sometimes you just need a good laugh.

When your faith endures many conflicts and your spirit sinks low, do not condemn yourself. There is a reason for your season of heaviness. Great soldiers are not made without war. Skillful sailors are not trained on the shore. It appears that if you are to become a great believer you will be greatly tested. If you are to be a great helper to others, you must pass through their trials. The uncut diamond has little brilliance, the unthreshed corn feeds no one, and the untried believer is of little use or beauty. There are great benefits to come from your trials. -charles spurgeon

Monday, October 5, 2009

giving sushi a shot

the month of september really knocked the wind right out of me. my blog suffered just as much as my sanity did. it was my fifth (FIFTH! time flies...) festival of children so i was on-call for a month, aside from spending a few days in new york for a fundraiser we hosted in central park. add that to visits from granny, cousin myrna, the jewish high holy days and life... and it was time for some respite come the first weekend in october.

and that's precisely what i did.

this past weekend, todd and i paid a visit to his family's cabin in lake arrowhead. we stayed in our pajamas from morning til night, until we had to face civilization for sunday lunch in the village before heading home.

on saturday, after some pomegranete peach pancakes, and in between watching 2 movies, 6 episodes of super nanny and 25 repetitions of the same infomercial (shout out to bling string! the styling sensation that's sweeping the nation!) we made our first attempt at homemade sushi. it tasted delicious (crab rolls, shrimp rolls, and tuna oh my!) and was perfectly complemented by a bottle of nigori sake, our personal favorite.

a work in progress...

the finished product (gjmme a break, i was a sushi chef virgin!)

oktoberfest at the village (small towns have my heart):

a beautiful day on the lake (view from woody's family restaurant!)

goodbye lake arrowhead. you were so good to us. til november...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lessons from Leviticus

When I was living in London in 2005, my adventurous (albeit small) group of friends there would occasionally trek out to the Comedy CafĂ© on Wednesday nights somewhere in the dorpies of North London for free stand-up comedy and drink specials. I had friends living in all areas of the city, so I usually made the journey home alone on the last metro ride through Kings Cross station, where I’d pick up the night bus that would bring me nearly to my doorstep. On March 23rd, I hopped off the metro and found myself in a dimly lit, nearly vacant metro station with not a person in sight, merely echoes of footsteps coming off subways on other platforms throughout the massive station.

As I turned the corner to approach the exit and continue my journey home, I witnessed something that not even the best digital technology, makeup, and actors on Grey’s Anatomy could replicate. Warning: things are about to get gory. A blindingly drunk man who appeared to be in his thirties had obviously tripped or fallen, and was tumbling down an escalator backwards, each razor-sharp step cutting up his body while his head limply followed suit. If he had been lucky enough, the escalator, moving at somewhat of a rapid speed, would eventually drop him off safely at the bottom and he would be treated for scrapes and bruises. Maybe a concussion. And definitely for a brutal hangover. But this man wasn’t so lucky. The elevator happened to be going UP while he was going DOWN.

In the millisecond that it took me to realize that gravity wasn’t working in his favor – that he might never make it to the bottom - my heart sank in to my stomach, I felt my face turn white as a ghost, and I proceeded to find the emergency stop button on the escalator. I pressed it as I prayed for a smooth and controlled halt. The man somersaulted slowly to the ground, blood squirting out of his wounds as he whimpered, helplessly. I couldn’t bare the sight for another moment and ran screaming through the station to find security, relay what I saw, and direct them to the scene of the accident. I promptly left the building, traumatized and hoping for the best.

To this day, I wonder if that man made it out of the station alive. I wonder how he fell, where he was coming from, if he had children, and why I was chosen to be the one lone ranger to witness his gruesome plunge that night. While the experience haunts me, I am humbled by the lesson I learned that night. Life is fragile, and when your character and strength are being tested, do not stand idly by.

And today, I remembered that night. I hurried through Target on my lunchtime escape, carefully watching the clock to make sure I kept my break under an hour. I made my silly purchases - you know, vitamin water, a pack of "New" Orbit gum, a birthday card and a t-shirt - and approached the exit, when I noticed a young boy hunched over in fetal position sitting against the cement wall, alone. He appeared to have spilled his Icee and was throwing an uncontrollable tantrum.

I watched not one, not two, but five people turn, give a puzzled look and continue on their way. They probably had to get back to work as I did, or home to watch Oprah.

“Did you spill your drink?” I asked the boy. No response. “Did you spill your drink” I asked again. He shook his head no. “Did you fall?” I asked. No answer. “Did you fall?” He shook his head yes. “Is your mommy or daddy here?” He shook his head no. “Are they inside the store?” He shook his head no. Keeping one eye on him, and with one foot inside the store, I flagged down the nearest Target employee in a red shirt. Ironically, she was filling up an Icee at the machine. “I’m sorry to bother you – it looks like you’re on your lunch break too – but there’s a kid outside, and I think he’s in trouble.” She confirmed that she was actually a store manager so in her mind, there’s really no such thing as a lunch break anyway. She followed me to the boy and within 30 seconds, between the two of us, we learned seven things.

The boy’s name is Xavier. He didn’t spill his drink. He fainted, hit his head hard on the cement wall, and threw up the entire Icee as a result. His family apparently saw this happen, and walked away. The manager politely thanked me for alerting her to the situation and gave me the “Can I ask you to walk away now? I've got it under control” nod. I slowly walked to my car, turning back often to check on Xavier. I didn’t feel like my work was done, but at the same time, I know he was left in good hands. I’ll never know what really happened, how serious his injury was, and if his parents actually had the audacity to walk away from the situation. Maybe we were just lost in translation somewhere.

I sat in my car for a few minutes and when I pulled out of the parking lot, Costa Mesa police (who had obviously been contacted by store security) came zooming in. I felt at ease either way.

I'm not trying to make myself sound heroic here. If anything, in retrospect, I could have waited around a little longer in both situations to ensure that Xavier and the anonymous metro station man were going to be okay. I could have offered my phone number in case anyone needed a witness. But I didn't, which is why I merely wanted to reiterate the underlying lesson that those five others at Target might have missed. Life is fragile, and when your character and strength are being tested, do not hesitate to follow your heart. Do not stand idly by.

Monday, July 6, 2009

independence, gratitude and sangria

i'm pretty sure they say that the way you celebrate your birthday is a good indication of how the rest of the year will unravel. if that's the case, i've got it made.

the weekend started on thursday night, when katie, her boyfriend david, todd and i had a cupcake making party complemented by some hookah, champagne and grey goose. things got a little crazy when decorating went from american flags and happy faces, to boobies and other forms of anatomy. the 4th of july paraphernalia was brought out in honor of BOTH our birthdays being on independence day. the following morning i was graced by an impromptu visit by joanna and her boyfriend tim. they treated us to a yummy lunch at 333 bayside overlooking boats and crystal blue newport beach waters, and brought me the most beautiful flowers and of course an owl card!

since friday was my momma's birthday, the whole family (well, okay, minus one little sister) dined at our family favorite, cucina alessa. cousin josh never ceases to act like a wise-ass around other people but we love him dearly, even when he slurps spaghetti and meatballs all over our brand-new dresses. the night ended at muldoon's to wish chelsea a bon voyage to san francisco and at midnight, my amazing friends handed me a blue bag from tiffany's. holllaaa!

saturday--my birthday and america's--was spent just the way it should have been. we were in my parents' backyard from 12pm til after 12am with a constant flow of family and friends, sangria, food, cupcakes, beer and good music! the only time we got up out of our rocking seats was to bring out more food or venture to "suicide hill" for fireworks. i felt so lucky to be in the company of amazing family, perfect friends and the best boyfriend! the best part was, none of it was planned out! the only thing i was left wishing for, come sunday, was a repeat!

back to life, back to reality...when's retirement?

Monday, June 15, 2009

'Tis the {wedding} season

As four of us sat having a lazy Sunday brunch at the Westlake Village Inn, the venue for Saturday night's wedding, Shiri commented that she felt like our parents. Going to weddings, dancing the horah, staying over, and meeting up for brunch the next morning before check-out.

Yes, my friends, nothing makes me feel like more of a grown-up than wedding season. Between bridal showers, bachelorette parties and weddings galore, it seems every weekend there's something to celebrate...and i'm okay with that.

The season started out with a bridal shower for my dear friend Rachel at the Peninsula Beverly Hills. Rachel and i met in 1997 at a summer leadership camp (CLTC whatttttt!) and have been friends ever since. She would come out to sunny California to visit me on spring break, and always raved about the beach and my mom's cooking. now she's living the life in los angeles and enjoying the sunshine daily! Speaking of feeling like our parents, her bridal shower involved high tea, strawberries and cream and finger sandwiches while enjoying the hotel's garden and champagne cocktails. Rachel is one heck of a hostess and I loved celebrating her fairytale love story! (girl slips on black ice in upstate new york's dead of winter, boy comes to the rescue to carry her home with a twisted ankle, and they fall in love... blah blah blah!) She's marrying Christian this summer in Hamburg, Germany.

Then comes Beth. Beth met Mike in the high school band and they've been together for 10 years. Mike was a big part of our college years together and endured many drives down to La Jolla from the San Fernando valley to see beth on the weekends. bless his little heart. We got wild and crazy for her bachelorette party last month, and celebrated the two lovebirds at a beautiful wedding this past weekend.

In between bridal showers and bachelorettes, todd and i ventured to the east coast for a whole week together. the trip was centered around aviva and pj's wedding in tarrytown, new york. aviva is my closest friend from March of the Living. We basically met at Auschwitz so it's no wonder we have a tight-knit bond that i hope will last for many years to come. their wedding was one of the most spectacular i've ever been to. the cocktail hour itself would have justified our entire journey!

i wish all these girls and boys a lifetime of love, happiness, and many many babies together!

next up... dad's 60th birthday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dancing for Tomorrow's Stars

On Saturday night, we attended Assistance League of Newport Mesa's fundraiser, Dancing for Tomorrow's Stars. My boss has been taking dance lessons for the past few months to prepare for what was sure to be a tight competition... Orange County philanthropists taking the hands of their professional dance partners to raise some dough for the organization's various charitable projects.
Needless to say, Sandy didn't win but she certainly had a strong, supportive crowd there and although the wine wasn't flowing as quickly as i had hoped it would (see: at all), we hooted and hollered all the way til the very end.

Someone needs to tell the Irvine Hyatt that when we pay $10,000 for a table and ask for a wine refill, we kinda mean we want it. OK, so I didn't pay, but still.

Monday, April 27, 2009

#1,001: Websites that make you smile

a big part of my job here at festival of children foundation is to develop content for and maintain our website. because of limited resources and the restrictions placed upon the overall "look and feel" of our site by our service provider, the difference between what i want the site to look like and what it looks like is...well...rather large.
so when i come across sites on the net that are well-written, creative, innovative and addictive (shut up...) i get all sorts of happy.

here's my latest find:
1,000 Awesome Things

And this is why:
"Polar ice caps are melting, pirates are storming the seas, wars are heating up around the world, and the stock market is in a deep freeze.
Dude, it’s getting pretty ugly out there.
If you’re like me, sometimes you think about putting on boots and a raincoat, battening down the hatches, and hiding under the bed. If you’re like me, the only reason you haven’t yet is because you don’t know what hatches are, you’ve never battened anything before, and boots are pretty expensive.
Now, we started up 1000 Awesome Things a few months back as a tiny getaway from this everyday. It’s just a brief escape from the downpour of bad news and sad news raining upon us, and I’m just some guy trying to remind myself of the simple things in life. Together we help create a place where unemployment figures, gun crimes, and rising sea levels sit backseat to wearing underwear just out of the dryer, the other side of the pillow, and old, dangerous playground equipment."

check it out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


are you freakin' kidding me with this lineup?

the location? the wine tasting? the PEARL JAM, the DAVE MATTHEWS BAND? the INCUBUS, the JASON MRAZ?

i have just died and gone to $300 ticket heaven. at least i'll be $300 poorer with my BFFOUSBCA by my side :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

orange is the new black

listen up, dear reader. yes, reader.

life has been fun lately, filled with adventure, celebration, work and play. but all i'm gonna discuss right now is...
the mandarinquat.
i first fell in love with the mandarinquat last week when i noticed that the boxed donned the infamous "frieda's" label. this specialty produce company is owned by a family friend whose claim to fame is the introduction of kiwi fruit to america in 1962. how cool is that?
i highly suggest you visit your local trader joe's to try out the mandarinquat for yourself. the mandarinquat (okay, i just like saying it...) is a cross between a mandarin and a kumquat, with a "sweet peel and tart, tangy flavor." and how often do you actually get to eat the sweet skin of a fruit that bears striking resemblence to an orange?
i did my research to find out what others say about the mandarinquat, and i couldn't have said it better than her:
first it's the funny way you feel when you say their name: m a n d a r i n q u a t. quirky, daring, silly, flirtatious, kooky, knowledgeable.
if you never thought a fruit could make you feel silly, kooky and flirtatious, i dare you to try it. i don't think it'll disappoint.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

there's a part of me in the chaos that's quiet

first things first. if you can tell me where the featured artwork in this post comes from, i will send you a serious prize. the item was left on my keyboard this morning when i came in to the office, and i have to say there are few things i'd have rather seen on a tuesday. :)

second, i haven't updated in donkey's years because quite frankly, i don't think anyone reads this to warrant frequent posts. then again, it's a chicken-or-the-egg kinda thing, because i know if i posted often and well, i might garner one or two audience members. :)

third, i moved 2 weeks ago. best decision i've made in four years! my favorite thing about the apartment to date are: my awesome roommate katie, my crazy (and yes, sociopathically, by-the-books crazy) neighbor gigi downstairs, the fact that i can entertain friends and boyfriend whenever i want, the fact that if we want to spend all day saturday drinking vodka sodas and creating facebook events in the living room, we can. and my favorite purchase for the living room, this rug (pictured right) from west elm.

in other news, i am training for a half marathon in may and let's just say i'm not quite where i should be. i am loving the flourescent pink sunset jogs but they never last more than 45 minutes before i'm ready to drop dead. i'm pretty sure i wasn't cut out for this.

peace, love, and hamsas.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Talkin about a (technology) revolution

Blogging from the blackberry. That sentence made no sense 6 years ago.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Year In Review: 2008 (aka the longest post you'll ever see)

2008 was good to me. for fear of this post being any more wordy than it needs to be, i'll let some photos tell you why.

January: looking back at my calendar (gimme a break, it was 12 months ago), it seems like the only eventful occurence during the first month of the year was a trip to vegas to celebrate my aunt's 50th birthday. unless you count a dentist appointment, a facial, or a volunteer shift at the OC marathon eventful. so, here we are in sin city with my favorite cousin who's now a mommy to a beautiful baby boy:
february: i spent 10 idyllic days frolicking around london, where my little sis was studying fashion design, and rome, where my dear friends paolo and federica showed us a taste of the good life. homemade pasta, espresso stops, dusk at trevi fountain and gelato on cobblestone streets. i fell in love with rome -- and with the world -- all over again:
march: met a boy. took me 3 months to figure out he sucked at life. i only post it here for posterity's sake, so when i'm old and gray and hopefully not blogging anymore, i can still remember life as a twenty-something. meanwhile, celebrated dani's birthday at lucky strike:april: nothing says spring like spending a couple days in washington, d.c during the cherry blossom festival. it was a lobbying trip through the anti defamation league's glass leadership institute of which i am a part. i met a personal hero, abe foxman, and knocked on the door of my local congressman at the capitol, asking him to basically change the world:
may: memorial day weekend. spent four glorious days in san diego (my old stomping grounds) with my best friend. drank to our hearts' content. met my boyfriend. played hours of catch phrase. had margaritas in old town with old friends. in that order...:june: i spent 3 weeks dogsitting for chelsea's pug, winston. crazy little pup. work was insane... i spent a big portion of weekends preparing for our annual golf tournament and then finally relaxed when we got to the course and drove around on a cart drinking every beverage in sight... i mean, handing out beverages to the golfers who spent $350 to be there that day:
july: i was a lucky girl to be able to spend 4th of july/my birthday in san francisco with some of my best friends and my boyfriend. we danced. we drank. we stayed at the westin in union square for 3 nights free. we rode bikes across the golden gate bridge and picnicked in the park. we visited book shops galore and watched fireworks from a rooftop lounge:august: this was a month of celebrations, celebrations. melissa's birthday in l.a, sarah and diego's birthday/anniversary dinner @ cucina alessa, joanna's birthday in l.a, gila's wedding, and a charity event @ the local zoo: september: if you know me, you know how i spend my septembers. festival of children, a monthlong program at south coast plaza that showcases the work of children's charities: october: one of my favorite people in the world, norman, came to visit his orange county buddies for a few nights of debauchery (i wouldn't have expected anything less from him):
november: after a complete work-related meltdown, i spent a week in paradise to relax, rejuvenate and eat seafood and guacamole. nuevo vallarta's grand mayan resort was so good to us:december: aside from a brief 3-day stint in the hospital for gall bladder surgery, december was a perfect way to finish up the year. holiday celebrations galore, quality time with friends and family, the annual podlas family chrismahanukwanzakah brunch, and a midnight kiss on new year's eve to round off the year:

thanks for being a part of my life in '08. stay tuned...