Category Archives: LA fun

A Day of Volunteering: Pinot Days

I should probably start out with stating the obvious….I love wine.

That said, pinot noir would have to be one of my least favorite wines.  But I was looking for some volunteering opportunities.  Oh and there was free wine for the volunteers.  And well, free wine is good wine in my book.  So volunteer I did.

It was being held at the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica airport.  Which was an interesting venue.  There were over 100 wineries there, a few cheese vendors and some miscellaneous wine-related vendors.  Immediately walking inside the hanger and you’re over-powered overwhelmed with the hum of all the voices bouncing all around the metallic hanger.

My volunteer shift was one of the later shifts (3:00 – 5:30) which meant there wasn’t all that much for me to do up at the front table.  Not many people were arriving the last two hours of the event.  But I did get to see plenty of really, really drunk people leaving.  And that alone was worth the volunteering experience.

I did take a super quick taste before I checked out. I mean I had to, it was wine 😉

I’ll definitely sign up to volunteer again next year (though I’d love to have an earlier shift with a bit more responsibility).  And if you like pinot, you might want to check it out.

I’m Such the Fashionista: Hanging at the Mart

This weekend is a crazy sort of weekend here in LA.  We’ve got NAMM going on in Anaheim for the musicians out there. There’s the Golden Globes for the movie buffs.  The Home and Gift Show going on at the Convention Center for the retailer.

But me, I decided to hang out at the California Mart to check out the LA Fashion Summer 10 event.  And the LA Kids Market.  And the Focus Apparael and Accessories Show.  And the smaller, low-key , Home and Gift Market.

Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed.  To say the least.

Yes, that tall building is indeed the Mart.  It’s located on 9th & Main in downtown’s Fashion District, and home to hundreds of wholesale showrooms for fashion, textiles, gifts and home decor, in addition to a range of offices, studio spaces, fashion design schools, restaurants, cafes, shops and special event venues.

That’s three buildings, 13 floors worth of window shopping!

I figured it would be best to just walk around and scope things out. No sense trying to reach out and talk with anyone.  I’m far too green and new to the whole process.  Plus, I was given a directory of all the lines and vendors, so I’ll still be able to get something out of the whole experience.

All in all, hanging at the Mart (especially during their Friday sample sales) can be fun for all.

SISTER GIANT: Rousing the Sleeping Giant of American Womanhood

Photo: Library of Congress

From Marianne Williamson:

On February 26, 27 and 28, 2010, I will be hosting a weekend gathering called SISTER GIANT: Rousing the Sleeping Giant of American Womanhood.

This seminar/conference speaks to the role of women at this pivotal moment in history. It’s a critically important time to transition from disastrous probabilities to fantastic possibilities, and women can lead the way.

If you are a woman who feels a prompting in your heart that goes something like this: “Okay, it’s time. I might not be perfect, but I’m good enough. And I’m ready,” then this invitation is for you.

During SISTER GIANT, we will review the historic forces that quelled the voice of the Western woman, as well as those that both challenge and invite us to speak our truth now. I hope you will come to Los Angeles on February 26th to join with other women who feel moved to both find our greatness and to do something great.

We will journey from an understanding of our history …. to a reclaiming of our personal power …. and ultimately to a vital commitment to be a powerful collective force in eradicating hunger and poverty on the planet today. It is time for us to change the world.

We will look within, and we will look without. In partnership with the RESULTS organization, we will work on forming a women’s delegation to the regional Microcredit Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in April 2010.

Sister Giant will take place at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel. The cost of the seminar will be a suggested donation of $250 but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Click here for registration information

Rainy Days, Bloggers and Cupcakes Always Make Me Smile


Sitting in my coastal vacation cabin on a rainy day, I’m reminded of what a fun time I had last weekend in the rain.  Let’s face it, on most rainy days, you don’t want to leave the house.  But for cupcakes, seventeen bloggers will brave the rain!  Even better knowing that it’s a Best of Tour and that we’ll be chauffeured around in the rain from cupcake shop to cupcake shop thanks to the good folks at Chevy GM and Best of Tours.

The Best of Tours are new concept with Chevy and General Motors.  It’s a way for consumers (or in this case, cupcake fans) to get out and not only try our the 2010 Equinox and Camaro, but to also try out their favorite food stuffs.  Prior to our cupcake tour, they were on the USC campus taking college students to various fast food restaurants during study breaks.

I’ll admit it, I might be a Jersey girl, but I’m not a girl that loves cars…even if they are Transformer-edition Camaros (though it did look hot!).  I’m more about luxury so I was sticking to the Equinox.  I must say, it was a perfect ride for a rainy day, very smooth, very comfortable, and a great sound system.  It comfortably fit five (including the driver) and that was all that mattered to me. 😉

group bestoftours

To be honest, I’m not even sure where to begin.  So I guess I’ll play the obvious card here and begin at the beginning.

First stop…Crumbs Bake Shop.  I have to say, up until this point, I pretty much wrote Crumbs off.  I’d been to both the Beverly Hills location and the Glendale location a couple times and each time, I was less than impressed.  This visit changed all that for me.  I have to say, Crumbs will now be my go to cupcake shop. I think tasting fresh cupcakes at the beginning of the day vs. tasting cupcakes at the end of the day might have something to do with it.

We were treated the best out of all four shops here.  It all started with our own personal greeting by the west coast partner, Harley Bauer.  Nothing makes you feel as welcome as entering en masse into a shop and having the owner walk out loaded down with bags of cupcake goodness.  He invited us to help ourselves and reminded us that if there was anything else we wanted to taste to just let him know and he’d set us up.  I tried the chocolate pecan pie and fell instantly in love.  I’ve never been one to say that something is too rich, but wow, this was rich (but in a good way, of course!).


I also wanted to try the winter flavor, White Hot Chocolate.  I’m not really a fan of white chocolate (I just can’t get over the fact that it’s not real chocolate), but it looked amazing.  I was lucky enough to mooch a small taste from one of the gals and was quite impressed.  Before passing us on to the next shop on the tour, Harley gave  us all bags to store our leftover cupcakes and sent us on our way back into the rain with hot coffee (or water).  Smart move and very, very much appreciated.


Next up…it was a quick walk to Sprinkles.  These guys pretty much started the cupcake craze here in LA, but it was my least favorite of the bunch.   It probably didn’t help to sway me by offering up their most boring traditional flavors: chocolate, vanilla and red velvet.   The good thing about Sprinkles is that they’re predictable and you always know you’ll get a good cupcake. But with most of my friends, we’ve pretty much decided it’s just not worth the hype.  It didn’t help that we had to taste our cupcakes curbside in everyone’s way (then again, their space is so small, there wasn’t room for us inside anyway).


From there, it was back into the fabulous Equinox to head over to SusieCakes. At this point, I just wasn’t feeling trying to eat another cupcake standing up.  I also thought that since I was bringing leftover cupcake goodness home, that the least I could do was bring home something for the hubs. So I picked up a lemon cupcake* for him.  I didn’t find out until later (lack of research on my part, I know) that SusieCakes’ strawberry cupcake is known as being Martha Stewart’s favorite cupcake.  If I’d known, I would have definitely tried that.  Lucky for me, Tara let me have a taste of the strawberry frosting and wow, it was good!

The last stop…Vanilla Bake Shop.  I wasn’t so impressed with this location.  Or maybe it’s just that I’m now used to so many flavors and choices (like with Crumbs and Sprinkles).  This time around again, I decided to pick something up for my husband and again went with the lemon flavored cupcake.  I loved it and thought it was very tasty.  Quite a few folks in the group were turned off by the raw sugar sprinkling and passed to try the key lime cupcake instead (later to write it off as horribly dry and lackluster).  I liked the crunch of the sugar (my husband, on the other hand, did not).

Management was also a little grumpy about photos (and samples…duh, we didn’t expect any samples and who would???) so I don’t have any photos from here. H.C. of LA/OC Foodventures took a photo of his chocolate cupcake in the bathroom (photo here).  Point taken, I’d say.

Then it was back into the rain to hop into the Equinox one last time to head back to the Pacific Design Center to head back home.  We were told to try the Onstar button for turn by turn navigation, but it wasn’t activated in the car we were in.  Like any good hostess, Tara wouldn’t let anyone go before we got a cupcake-inspired goody bag chock full of cupcake stickers and lip gloss, a stylish InStyle book (which I love more than you can imagine being someone without style), and the coolest thing to ever find in a swag bag..a Tiffany keychain with the GM logo.  Yes, I said TIFFANY!!!

Overall, it was an awesome way to spend a rainy day.  Keep your eyes open for more Best of Tours in your neck of the woods.  Better yet, just follow along on Twitter.

*Of the two lemon cupcakes I brought back for him, this was his favorite.

Other posts about the event:

Happy Go Marni: Scavenging Los Angeles Cupcakeries in Chevy Camaro and Equinox with Best of Tours
LAist: Tuesday is National Cupcake Day. So Who Has the Best?
LA/OC Foodventures: Special Foodventures #147: Thankfulness for Cupcake Tour around L.A.
Let Me Eat Cake: Cupcake Coma
Tara met Blog: Best of LA Cupcakes Tour with Chevy’s Inside Line Straightline blog: Chevrolet Goes on Cupcake Tour in L.A.
Caroline on Crack: Best of L.A. Cupcakes Tour With Bloggers and Chevy
Pretty Sandy Feet: Cupcakes and Wedding Dresses

For additional photos from the event, check out TaraMetBlog and LA/OC Foorventures’ Flickr sets.

I only had my iphone with me, so all photos are courtesy of TaraMetBlog.

Chritmas Trees: Live or Artificial?

I think the last time I had a live Christmas tree I was in high school back in New Jersey.  Though come to think of it, I believe once we moved, we went to a large artificial tree.  So it must have been even longer still.

Since moving in with my hubs, I’ve been using a smallish, table top artificial tree.  I figured if the cat decided to attack (or climb, or pull down, or whatever) that it would cause much less havoc and damage.  Last year we didn’t even decorate since we were away for early November and then I had to focus on the 50 Days of Giving giveaway promotion when we got back.

Since then, I’ve been toying with the idea of either upgrading the size of my artificial tree (as the cat has been leaving it alone from day one). Or maybe going real this year.  But now that we’re talking about moving next summer when classes let out, I’m not so sure I can bring myself to making the big purchse.

Enter the folks at Living Christmas (they’re located in Redondo Beach).  I’ve mentioned before that it turns out you can rent just about anything…well, now you can even rent a LIVE Christmas tree!  They carry different sizes and species.  And all things considered (if you go real on a regular basis), they’re not all that expensive.  Very cool.

And if you want a chance to win your live three this year, then head on over to and enter her giveaway. I’d wish you good luck, but well, I know I’m going to win it this year!! 😉

And speaking of giveaways…don’t forget to enter for your chance to win $60 worth of grub at NORM’S

Raise Your Hand If You Love Trader Joe’s

I mentioned the other day that I seem to have a bit of a control issue when it comes to magazines and the winter holiday season.  I think that it’s the part cookbook and part gift guide that attracts me so.  I’ve also mentioned my love of cookbooks in the past.

This week, my two loves have joined together. Squee!!

While working on the upcoming holiday gift guides for ConstantChatter, I was offerred a review copy of the I ♥ Trader Joe’s Cookbook.  And let me tell you, as much as I love Trader Joe’s (and I do love Trader Joe’s) I think this cookbook is going to make me love Trader Joe’s even more.  Just giving it a quick looksee, I found something to make for book club on Sunday (pear and brie gallette), something to make for our Thanksgiving side dish (but first I need to pick one of many), and an easy soup that sounds so yummy.  Good stuff I’m telling ya.

My Local Trader Joe's

And if you too love Trader Joe’s, I’d also suggest that you check out the gals behind Cooking With Trader Joe’s.  They have a blog, a Facebook fan page, a newsletter and their Twitter feed.  And all chock full of yummy recipes.  Check out this yummy pumpkin oatmeal recipe.

What’s your favorite Trader Joe’s product or recipe?

Giveaway: $60 FREE food at Your Favorite NORMS


NORMS is turning 60 this year!

And to celebrate, they’re giving away $60 worth of food to one lucky My LA Blog reader.

That’s a whole lotta late night grub!!

Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win!!

So here’s the deal…stop by the NORMS of your choice between now and Wednesday, November 25th (the day before Thanksgiving) and take a photo (or video) of yourself, your friends, your family, your food, your waitress, your receipt, you name it…just let us see that it’s at NORMS and leave me the link to your photo here in the comments and you’re entered. No purchase necessary.

UPDATE: if that all sounds like too much work and you just don’t have the time to swing by NORMS any time soon (I know just how crazy pre-holiday season can be), just leave a comment tell me why you enjoy NORMS or what your favorite thing to order might be. We’re easy like that.

After Thanksgiving, I will use everyone’s favorite, handy dandy integer generator and pick a winner. That lucky winner will win $60 worth of free food at the NORMS of their choice.

And if you tweet about this contest or post it on your Facebook page or become a NORMS fan on Facebook, I’ll even throw in an extra chance to win. Just be sure to send me a screen cap or link to the tweet – each extra counts as one extra chance, so be sure to post them all individually in separate comments.

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FREE Micro-Zone Treatment at Dermalogica Ends Friday

Calling all you local readers, time is running out for your chance to win…


I didn’t want you to forget to enter for your chance to get a free treatment at the Dermalogica on Montana location in Santa Monica (the contest ends Friday – that’s tomorrow!).  I received my microZone® treatment Tuesday night and it was beyond heavenly.  Who knew that a quick, twenty minute treatment would leave me feeling so relaxed.

Typically you can either choose which 20-minute, microZone® session you’d like to have, or you can let the estheticians do their job and offer you the treatment that you need most.  I had the basic blackhead relief complete with everyone’s favorite…extractions and my personal favorite the high frequency wand.  Luckily, there were only a few extractions.  And yes, I left forking over a goodly amount of money for some new, much needed products.

My friend had an awesome soothing treatment of some sort (not on the standard microZone® service menu).  She’s typically prone to some red blotches (and like me, the dreaded adult acne), so this treatment was just what she needed.  It was amazing how non-red (guess that’s not really a word, but I’m sure you get what I’m trying to say) her face looked when we left there.  These ladies really know what they’re doing and they know how to squeeze it into a 20-minute session to give you exactly what your face (or hands) need.

And if you’re a bit of an architectural geek, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of the storefront.  It’s their original “concept space” (one of only six worldwide) and very futuristic and spacey.  It reminds me of something out of that Woody Allen movie, Sleeper that I saw as a kid.  Very cool vibe.  And I love that your treatments happen in pods and you don’t have the standard new agey music.

I certainly wouldn’t want you to miss out on this fantastic opportunity to win, so be sure to enter NOW!!

And while you’re in the entering contests mode, be sure to enter for your chance to win $60 in NORMS food!

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