Thursday, March 31, 2011

The NEW adventures of "Flat Stanley"

A dear friend of mine, from my home state of Illinois, contacted me a few weeks ago.  She told me that her first grade daughter had a school assignment she was currently working on called 'Flat Stanley'.  Flat Stanley is a paper doll that each student is to mail to someone who lives far away.  That person, who lives far away, is to take pictures of Flat Stanley's visit and then mail him and the photos back home.  The student then will get up in front of the class and tell all about their Flat Stanley's vacation.  I had never in my life heard of Flat Stanley.  Naturally, that means this would be a 'NEW' experience for me.  Sooooo.....I said yes and Flat Stanley was sent to California to spend sometime with Auntie Melinda.  

                                                                        Flat Stanley and I

Let me begin by saying that Flat Stanley is based on a 1964 children's book written by Jeff Brown.  The story is about Stanley Lambchop.  He is a young boy, whose father gave him a bulletin board for displaying his pictures and posters on.  Stanley's father hung the bulletin board above Stanley's bed.  One night the bulletin board fell on Stanley and flattened him.  Don't worry....Stanley soon realized that his new altered state was great for traveling. His parents could simply put him in an envelope and mail him to different places.  Pretty neat way to travel, huh?  Below is the link to Flat Stanley's website...

I was so happy to have Flat Stanley visit me for a couple weeks.  Here are some pictures of our adventures.

                                             Stanley goes to Disneyland and meets Goofy!!!!

                                                  Stanley on famous Hollywood Blvd.

                                                                 Walk of Fame Star

            Will Smith's hand prints outside of the legendary Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood

                                               Stanley meets some of LA's finest heroes

                                                    Stanley goes to Los Angeles's China Town

                                                   Stanley goes to a California beach

                                               Stanley being held by a California surfer

                                                     Stanley and the Pacific Ocean

                                                           Stanley laying in the sand

                         Stanley by a California orange tree.  Boy did those orange blossoms smell good.

I sincerely enjoyed this NEW experience.  I think this is a great school project that is fun for everyone involved.  Flat Stanley has been spotted all around the world.  He has even been pictured with the President of the United States.  A Flat Stanley was found at ground zero.  Flat Stanley was also seen being carried off the plane that crashed into the Hudson River in 2009.  Flat Stanley does get around and he definitely connects the hearts of people around the world. 

 Thanks for visiting me Stanley.  I'll miss ya, little buddy.  xo


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tsunami survivor in Japan gives me a "New" gift. I share this gift with you. Please pass it on. xo

About two weeks ago I watched, helplessly from my couch, as an 8.9 earthquake and a tsunami totally brought death and destruction to Japan.  In all my life, I have never witnessed anything so horrifying.  I vowed to myself that I would never complain or stress out over the little troubles in my life every again.  Instead I would always choose to count my blessings.  HA!  Well, that vow lasted about a whole 48 hours.  Two weeks later and I am catching myself bitching about my life, stressing out over things I can't control, banging my head against the table as I balance my check book, and cursing that dryer that doesn't seem to want to dry my clothes.  "How dare my dryer NOT dry my uniform to wear to that stupid job that I HATE?!!"  WELL...God has a way of speaking to us all.  My friendly reminder from God came in the form of a letter from a woman who lives in the mist of the earthquake rubble in Sendai, Japan.  Now this is a woman, who one might think, should be pissed off about her situation, stressed out, crying, fearful, mad, and asking 'why me and my family?'  But she is NOT.  She and many people in Japan are choosing to use this experience to see life from a 'NEW' perspective.  They are finding 'NEW' blessings in a situation that most people would find dark and hopeless.  Please do yourself a favor and take the time to read this inspirational letter from a woman in Sedai, Japan....
Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,

First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am 
very touched. I also wish to apologize for a generic message to you all. 
But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to
have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even
more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend's home. We share
supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in 
one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and 

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People 
sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line 
up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water 
running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up 
their jugs and buckets.

Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in
lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an
earthquake strikes. People keep saying, "Oh, this is how it used to be 
in the old days when everyone helped one another."

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens
are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for
half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on.

But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not.
No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much
more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of
non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of 
caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the 
entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some
places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun.

People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking
their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No
cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered
with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled.

The mountains of Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them
silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to
check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on,
and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from
whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking
to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they
need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic,

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for 
another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, 
shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is
a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is
better off than others. Last night my friend's husband came in from the
country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed
an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world
right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now
in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I
felt so small because of all that is happening. I don't. Rather, I feel as
part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of
birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me,

With Love in return, to you all.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Still keeping it "NEW" in March...China Town, Live Mice, Fireworks, and a Great Cup of Coffee

ANOTHER WEEK OF NEW!!!!  Can you believe I have officially stuck to my New Year's resolution to try one new thing a day for over two months now??!!!   Well, I have, much to my own surprise, and I am still going strong.  This 'new' stuff kinda grows on ya.  It is fun.  It is exciting.  And...believe it or's kinda easy once ya get started.

Some more new things I have tried in March...

-First of all, I have lived in Los Angeles for 12 years now and I have NEVER been to China Town.  I know, I know, this falls under the category of WTF???  But, so many of us do this.  There are great things to see, or do, or experience, that are just an one or two hour car drive away from our home, but we don't go do it. We tell ourselves, "I would love to do that.  I'll do it next pay check. Next month. Next year."  All of a sudden it is 12 years later and you're sitting around thinking to yourself, "Gee, wish I could think of something fun to do this weekend."  At least that has been my experience with a few things.  I can't help it.  My couch is so comfy and I love my HBO nights.  But, neither my couch or HBO are at all new to me. HA
                                                         The entrance to Old China Town

So, off to China Town I went.  I gotta say that China Town is probably one of my favorite new things so far.    Old China Town plaza was built in 1938.  As you enter the plaza through beautiful Chinese arches, you step into a traditional Chinese environment.  Lots of authentic food, beautiful jade jewelry, wonderful clothing, herb stores (the real with live mice), and music that puts an elegant glide in your step. Many movies were filmed here including 'Rush Hour', 'Lethal Weapon 4', and of course, 'Chinatown'. I must have been grinning ear to ear the whole day. I was very excited to try Dim Sum for the first time.  My Dim Sum was a warm steamed dough wrapped around different meats like chicken and BBQ pork.  I liked it so much, I ordered three more to take home with me.
                                                           My first bite of Dim Sum

  I also got to try 'homemade' mochi, which is a traditional Chinese dessert.  There certainly is something to be said for home made food served at an authentic restaurant.  I enjoyed my first Chinese beer, Tsingtao.  I explored many interesting shops and purchased two pieces of jewelery made from agate.  I couldn't leave China Town without having a fortune cookie.  My fortune read...."Experience life fully".  Talk about an ironic reminder.

-Anyone who knows me, knows that I have to have three things everyday...a glass of red wine, a cup of coffee, and chocolate.  My dream came true when I found two of my favorite tastes in one.  Coffee-a-Cocoa!!  Can you believe it??!!  I found a can of medium dark Brazilian coffee blended with unsweetened cocoa.  I almost didn't buy it, because it cost twice has much as my usual coffee.  However, in the spirit of 'new' I just had to treat myself.  I am so glad I did.  Little did I know, that with every purchase of Coffee-a-Cocoa, you get a complimentary can of Peppermint coffee.  Ok, even I gotta admit that Peppermint coffee sounds weird.  But, it was new and FREE!!!  The Coffee-a-Cocoa is amazing.  It is rich and full of flavor.  One of the best coffees I have ever brewed at home.  The Peppermint coffee was neat to try...a bit odd...but neat to try.  I don't think Peppermint coffee will be something I will brew every morning.  I do think it will be a fun coffee to serve at one of my dinner parties.

 -This week I decided to throw a new twist into my usual workout.  A personal trainer once told me that it is a very good idea to mix up your workout routine every three weeks.  Adding something new to my workout, not only keeps me from getting bored, but it is great for my physical health.  I recently met a woman who runs marathons.  She told me that she uses interval running to train for her marathons.  She runs for three minutes and walks for one minute.  She repeats this pattern over and over through out her run.  I am NOT training for a marathon, but I do try to run for 20 minutes at least three times a week.  This week instead of running for 20 minutes straight.  I tried the interval run for 20 minutes.  I rather enjoyed it.  I definitely didn't get bored.  I also felt like my body got a better workout by running in a new way.  I also got to use my stop watch again.  That made me feel so official.

-I LOVE LOVE LOVE Disneyland!!  I love it so much that last year I got an annual pass.  This allows me to go as often as I want to... and I do.  I swear I have explored every square inch of that magical happy place over and over again.  I could visit Disneyland a thousand times and never get sick of it.  But, I wasn't quite sure that I could find something new to do in a place that I have visited so many times.  HA...wrong again.  With the help of a dear friend, I found a few new experiences in my old favorite theme park.  My friend wanted to picnic in Disneyland.  I picnic in Disneyland almost every time that I go.  My friend suggested we picnic on Tom Sawyer's island...ding-ding-ding...NEW idea!!!  I couldn't believe it?!  I have never even thought of picnicking on Tom Sawyer's island.  We took the raft over to the island, found a bench near the water, and ate our picnic lunch.  As we enjoyed our lunch we watched the Mark Twain Steamboat and a Viking Ship sail by over and over.  It was so neat.  I felt like Becky Thatcher.  Later that evening I got to see the fireworks display.  I have seen the fireworks in Disneyland many times, but they are always just above the castle.  This time they were being sent off from every corner around the park.  I was literally surrounded by fireworks every where I looked.  Everywhere I the north, to the south, to the east, to the west...there was fireworks.   It was surreal and NEW!   Of course, I had to stop and visit my old buddy Pluto.  I gave him a big hug and told him thank you for always putting a fresh new smile on my face every time I come to visit the 'Happiest Place on Earth'.

-Last, but not least, I received a 'new' homework assignment this week.  A friend of mine back home in Illinois, has a daughter who is in elementary school.  She sent me a paper doll named, 'Flat Stanley'.  I am suppose to take several pictures of Flat Stanley visiting different places around Los Angeles.  I then send Flat Stanley and his photos back home to Illinois.  I will be sure to blog about all "The New Adventures of Flat Stanley" next week.  I think Stanley and I are going to have a grand time.  :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Academy Awards, My Birthday, and Finding "new" in "old" traditions.

This week was full of lots of traditions.  I LOVE tradition.  My family taught me, through example, how important, fun, and full of blessings traditions are.  I treasure opportunities to celebrate and carry on old traditions.  I also am grateful for opportunities to start new ones.  The definition of the word 'Tradition' is... an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or as a social behavior). does my resolution to try "New" things fit into that?  This week I decided to look for the 'new' in the 'old'.

- Last week began with Oscar Sunday.  Hollywood's biggest night and a good ol American tradition.  I have lived in the Los Angeles area for 12 years now.  It has become a tradition to celebrate the Oscars every year.  I love, love, love, love carrying on this tradition.  To put it simply it is just a ball of FUN!!!  It is full of glamor, excitement, passion, and it reconfirms that America is a place where everyone has the choice to live their dreams.  We began our traditional Oscar celebration by having a glamorous champagne brunch on the Queen Mary.  The Queen Mary is an old cruise liner from the 1930's.  People like Clark Gable, Laurel and Hardy, Spencer Tracey, Betty Davis, and the Queen of England use to cruise on her.  The Queen Mary is now permanently docked in Long Beach, CA.  Her decor is kept as she was when she was sailing in the 1930's and 1940's.  Walking on board the Queen Mary is like stepping back into time.  I always LOVE going aboard this beautiful time capsule.  Yes, I have been to the Queen Mary and her Sunday brunch many times.  It is one of my favorite things to do in Southern California.  So, not new to me.  But, I took with me a few friends who have never been on the Queen Mary.  Much to my surprise, it created a new experience for me.  I got to see the Queen Mary once again through the eyes of people exploring her for the first time.  I even saw things on the ship that I have never noticed before.  For example, they had one of her gigantic propellers on display.  Oh my goodness, just one of her propellers is three times the size of my car!!!  
                                                            The legendary Queen Mary 
 While on the Queen Mary, I had another new experience through an old tradition.  The Queen Mary has been voted as having one of the BEST Sunday Brunches in California.  I would have to agree whole heartily.  The Brunch is served in what use to be the Grand Ballroom.  The food is elegant, delicious, and endless.  Free flowing champagne and caviar.  All this for just under $40.  Here is where the fun 'new' came in.  I have tried caviar before and quite like it.  My friends have never had caviar and did NOT want to try it.  I encouraged them to embrace the idea of trying something new and giving it a shot.  I have never laughed so hard in my life!!!!!  Watching each one of my friends try caviar for the first time and taking a picture of their first reaction to it, was not only a new experience for me, but tons of hysterical fun!!! 
Pictured below are "THE MANY FACES OF CAVIAR"
                                                      Melinda says...'Caviar is yummmy'
                                                          Caviar makes Adam smile.
                                                        Ramon gave Caviar a try...but......
                                                              Duane gives a thumb up
                                                              Sandy gives a big NO!!!

-This week ended with my Birthday!!!  Yeah...Happy Birthday to me!!!!!  Of course, I have celebrated my birthday many times.  Every year I look forward to celebrating my birthday at my favorite Italian restaurant with my dearest friends.  This year was no different.  My heart just had to carry on my birthday tradition.  I also knew in my heart that I would find many new moments in this cherished tradition.  HAHA....and yes I did!!!  I did everything from inviting new friends that I had not invited in the past years, to trying a new item on the menu, to trying a new wine.  Then a super 'newbie' occurred.  There is a nightly tradition at this restaurant.  Once a night they play Dean Martin's 'That's Amore'.  All the guest and all the waiters sing along with glasses of Chianti in their hands.  This is always my favorite part of the night.  I always join into the singing with full commitment.  This year, for the first time, one of my friend's video taped me singing and participating in this joyful, wine induced, tradition.  Then my friend immediately posted it on FaceBook.  God bless social media.  I actually enjoyed watching myself.  Who am I kidding?  I almost peed myself watching this video.  I would love to share this 'new-moment' video on my blog.  I'm in the mist of trying to figure out how to do that right now.  I figure, why not share good 'new' comedy.  HA!  Stayed tuned.
                                                                 My birthday dinner
-Speaking of social media, I am really in the 'new' with this one.  I just started Tweeting for the first time this year.  I have also just started really using FaceBook as a way to do some business net working.  The whole thing is rather new to me.  My resolution to try more new things, has really encouraged me to explore this new way of socializing.  I'm not only getting the hang of it, I am starting to enjoy it and make some great business contacts.   This week social media added something new to an old tradition.  On my birthday I always get birthday cards in the mail from my family and some close friends.  I have always enjoyed the tradition of giving and receiving birthday cards.  This year I experienced a new twist on this old tradition via social media.  I woke up on my birthday, made some coffee, and sat down with my lap top and logged into FaceBook....HOLY COW!!!!  I had dozens upon dozens of the nicest birthday greetings.  I had birthday wishes from childhood friends, highschool friends, college friends, friends that I spoke to yesterday, and friends I haven't spoken to in so long I almost forgot about them...ooops.  I had birthday greetings from my parents, my brother, aunts, uncles, first cousins, second cousins, third cousins, second cousins-once-removed.  I even had birthday wishes from a few celebrities.  If that is not a 'new' way to hear Happy Birthday over and over and over and over again, I don't know what is.  Happy 'social media' Birthday!!  Fun new stuff!!!

-This week I tried another new food.  I only had a few minutes, so I was running through the grocery store trying to find a vegetable to make for dinner.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw the oddest looking thing in the produce section.  It was Romanesco broccoli.  I was like...what the heck is that and where are the carrots? Then, in the name of 'new', I stopped and said to myself, 'that weird thing is going to be dinner'. was pretty darn good.  It tasted like broccoli with a mild hint of cauliflower.  I drizzled it with a bit of olive oil, sprinkled it with garlic, and baked it in the oven for about 20 minutes.  I not only really enjoyed this new veggie, I googled some Romanesco broccoli recipes.  
                                 Romanesco broccoli, first discovered in Italy in the 16th century.

-For those of you who love the combination of salty and sweet.  I made another great new food find.  Chocolate brownies with sea salt.  I had to sit down to eat these.  Talk about a delicious weak in the knees experience.  Of course, this was another Trader Joe's find.  Lots of new surprises in that store.  Thanks Joe.

This week just goes to show, there is new everywhere.  Even in the oldest of tradition.  You just gotta open your eyes, your mind, and your heart to the possibilities.