See The Rose Parade Floats Up Close And Personal

Orange_Grove_before_Rose_Parade_2009_(3161432082)Do you watch the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day? (That’s tomorrow, FYI.) Have you wondered what those floats look like up close but have no desire to spend the night in freezing temperatures? (It’s going to get into the mid-30s tonight, that is close enough to freezing for me.) You can! It’s become a custom to view the parked floats for a few days after the parade. This year you can view them tomorrow (Jan. 1), Friday and Saturday (Jan. 2-3). It will cost you $10 per person and the money goes to the Tournament of Roses Foundation. For that entry fee, you can walk all along the floats (but no touching, please) and even talk with white jacketed volunteers who will tell you more about them.

The floats are viewable:
January 1: 1:00 – 5:00PM
January 2: 9:00 – 5:00PM
January 3: 9:00 – 5:00PM

Senior citizens and disabled persons are welcome from 7:00 – 9:00am both days for less crowded viewing.

You can buy tickets online here or you can buy tickets on-site until 3pm each day.
UPDATE: You can only buy tickets online if you plan to pick them up by 5pm TODAY at the ticketing office (See link). Otherwise, you must buy them on site.

Also, there is a Park and Ride Shuttle ($3 for those 6 years old and above) to ease in the parking situation as street parking nearby is limited.

I plan on getting there early on Saturday in warm cozy clothes.

Happy New Year!

12 Days of Giving: Donate Blood

This is the one of several posts by us outlining charities and non-profit causes near to our heart. It isn’t always about monetary donations for these groups. Tight on funds? They welcome your time and talents to help them as a volunteer as well. When it’s all said and done you feel closer and connected to your community when you help it out. And isn’t giving of yourself all that matters this time of year regardless if its Christmas, Hanukkah, or Pagan rituals?

Hot Blooded!
Hot Blooded!

Speaking of “giving of yourself” why not literally give of yourself? Blood banks always need blood, not just in times of crisis. If you meet the requirements, you can donate a pint of your blood in about an hour. Easey peasey, stress-ball squeezey! No matter your blood type, blood banks need it. Are you Type O, the Universal Donor? Great, that means more people in the city need your blood. Are you a rare type – AB? Great, they need you too.

l_gotbloodMy favorite donation place is the UCLA Blood and Platelets Center. The staff is friendly, the place is clean and bright and they do all they can to make it easy and fun to donate. They have assigned parking spots just for donors right by their door in Westwood. And even if those spots are taken, they give you free parking in the nearby lot. They always have raffles and free gifts. I got a beach towel and a UCLA T-shirt from my last two visits. And those bonus gifts were on top of the free movie tickets you get for donating. Oh and the great selection of juice and cookies after! From start to finish (checking in, paperwork, getting your vitals checked, donating blood, juice/cookies) it takes about an hour. The actual donation part? about 10 minutes.

There are many places to donate in LA, just google it. Children’s Hospital LA has a donation center. The Red Cross has many donation centers in SoCal and hey! They are giving away red, long sleeved t-shirts if you donate between 12/24 and January 4.

It is true what they say, the more you give, the more you get. Please donate blood. It might cost an hour of your time every three months and the benefits to your community and your heart are huge.

 

12 Days of Giving: Help A Mother Out

This is the one of several posts by us outlining charities and non-profit causes near to our heart.  Its not always about monetary donations for these groups. Tight on funds?  They welcome your time and talents to help them as a volunteer as well.  When its all said and done you feel closer and connected to your community when you help it out.  And isn’t giving of yourself all that matters this time of year regardless if its Christmas, Hanukkah or Pagan rituals?

HAMOlogoNo matter their race, gender, or income level, all babies have one very basic thing in common: They Need Diapers. And lots of them. For YEARS. One in three families in the US struggle to afford diapers and 22% of children live in poverty. Diapers are not cheap and they are not covered in any public assistance programs – not even WIC (Women, Infants and Children). How much? Diapers can cost on average $75-$100/month. And most childcare facilities require parents to supply diapers every day for your child. If you are a poor working parent, childcare is critical for you to be able work. If you can’t afford diapers, you can’t use daycare and if you can’t use daycare, how can you work? Vicious cycle.

“Diapers are a must-have. You can’t skip them like you can breakfast. Getting donated diapers has helped me because I don’t have to have my child do without other things, such as food.” ~ Mom, Center for the Vulnerable Child

This is where Help A Mother Out comes in. Their sole mission is to provide diapers to families who need them. They do this by raising money, raising awareness and working to change laws specific to diaper needs in public assistance programs. And they need your help. Families and babies need your help. They are based in the Bay Area, but they have a small volunteer crew here in Los Angeles who run diaper drives and distribute diapers to various organizations in LA County.

Please click through to read more and to find out all the ways you can Help A Mother Out.

Who are these families in need? They can be anyone. Families hit hard by the recession. Families whose circumstances have changed unexpectedly due to a health crisis. A mom and her kids escaping domestic abuse with only the clothes on their backs. Homeless families trying to get on their feet. Working families barely getting by. It’s not just one type of family that needs help. And clean diapers mean much healthier and happy babies. Parents who can’t afford diapers often leave their kids in dirty diapers for ong periods of time. This can cause sever diaper rash and could even lead to infectious diarrhea, Hepatitis A and viral meningitis. Clean diapers help the whole family and the community.

“With the help of diapers, I am able to use the little money I have on food and other important necessities for my kids.” Mom of two, Women’s Daytime Drop in Center

How can you help? You can donate money online, you can host a Diaper Drive, you can also donate diapers, you can even buy diapers on Amazon to ship directly to a local organization. Do you have a child who has just potty-trained? Fist of all, congrats! Second – do you have a half opened pack of diapers in the closet? Help A Mother Out will take those too. You can find out how to help here. You can also make it really easy and contact me. I’ll come and get your leftover diapers personally to deliver to a local shelter or organization that needs them.

(You’ll notice these donated diapers are the disposable variety and many of you might have environmental concerns. Homeless and poor working families often have limited or even no access to laundry facilities on a regular basis and cloth diapers require much laundering as well as the soap to go with it. Just something to keep in mind.)

Click here to see specifically who Help A Mother Out serves in California.

Every baby deserves a clean diaper. Period.

 

 

 

See’s Candies Holiday Pop-Up Shops

See'sPopUpIt’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you love Los Angeles native, See’s Candies! They are putting up pop-up holiday shops around town so you don’t have to brave the mall when you get invited somewhere last minute and don’t want to arrive with your hands hanging. They are selling only boxed chocolates, no candy counter full of individual yummies to mix and match. But when Aunt Gertrude is stopping by and you’ve accidentally left her off your list, you can race in for that two pound box of dark chocolate nuts and chews she loves so much.

Check locations here.

And there are two more days to enter into the See’s Candies For Life contest!

My personal favorite – Scotchmallows.

The Apple Pan on Thanksgiving Eve – Free Theater While You Wait!

ApplePan2When you enter the Apple Pan, you have to understand you are entering a totalitarian state. This joint has been around, almost untouched, since 1947 and nothing you say or do will change how they do business. This is true on any day. This is doubly true on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eves when they make tons of extra pies and all of us die-hards line up to get them. (My husband loves the chocolate cream.) You’ll wait and if you are like me, you’ll enjoy the wait because the wait is great theater.

ApplePan1With all the extra people coming to buy pies on the same days every year, you would think they might put on a special person simply to sell pies and keep the crowds moving. No, no they won’t. Why? Because we are the Apple Pan and because f**k you. You don’t like it? Go buy pies at that tramp Marie Callendar’s place. The guy who takes your pie order is the same guy servicing his side of the counter (which of course is full of lunch eating peeps) and he’ll get to you when he gets to you.

During my 35 minute wait, I was lucky to stand next to a nice woman who had the same attitude as I did, in fact she was going to be late for a doctors appointment, but damned if she was going to miss picking up the apple pie for her boyfriend’s family!  We chatted a bit between shows.

Continue reading “The Apple Pan on Thanksgiving Eve – Free Theater While You Wait!”

Classic Eats #14 Recap and a Farewell

It was a dark and stormy night, but that didn’t stop Classic Eats #14 from being a fun gathering of classic eaters!

The evening started with cocktails at Traxx at Union Station and while the bachelor party that was also there was a bit, uh, loud, their theme shirts were sort of amusing. Luckily their train was called and we had some quieter time to chat about cigars, whiskey and guns.

Soon it was time to eat and we slogged through the pouring rain to Phillipes to partake of the yummy dipped sandwiches. Comfort food on a rainy night — who could ask for more?

I had to try the pickled eggs. They are delicious!

The gang enjoying their feast.

CLOWNS!

 

Thanks to all who joined in the Classic Eats fun.

As to the farewell part of this blog post — This will be my last Classic Eats as I am stepping down from Blogging.LA and moving on to other things. I have loved my three and a half years of blogging here, the highlight being Hot Dot Death March. I have gotten to know my beloved LA even better than expected and have also gained wonderful friends here at BLA. Thank you for all the fun!

Classic Eats #14 – See You Tomorrow Night!

Rain or Shine – we’ll be at Traxx and Phillipe’s! looking forward to seeing you there.

Classic Eats #14 – Downtown Delights
Saturday February 19
5:30 at Traxx inside Union Station
7:00 (ish) at Phillipe’s

Union Station – Traxx – Classic cocktails in a classic location. All your train travel fantasies come true.

Phillipe‘s – They claim to be the original french dip sandwich place! Their mustard is pretty damn good too. I should know.

Classic Eats #14 – This Saturday

Classic Eats #14 is this Saturday February 19!

Just a gentle reminder to join us downtown. Theoretically it will be raining so bring your brollys and rubbers! (Wait, wasn’t that was a Valentine Post from last week?)

Classic Eats #14 – Downtown Delights
Saturday February 19
5:30 at Traxx inside Union Station
7:00 (ish) at Phillipe’s

Union Station – Traxx – Classic cocktails in a classic location. All your train travel fantasies come true.

Phillipe‘s – They claim to be the original french dip sandwich place! Their mustard is pretty damn good too. I should know.

Classic Eats!

We’ve Got Valentine’s Day Licked: The Pleasure Chest

This blog post might not be safe for work due to language. The links are definitely NSFW.

Walking through the Pleasure Chest last night was a blast. I’m pretty vanilla in my own sex life, but I read. A lot. And finally seeing sex paraphernalia I’d only read about up close and personal was a HOOT! I highly recommend a visit there whether you are looking for a fun gift for Valentine’s Day or need to complete your fetish collection. The store is a brightly lit, clean and happy place. No dark corners or shady customers here. The staff that I did speak to were smiling and helpful. And oh the variety of toys to play with!

The first thing that caught my eye was the OhMiBod set of vibrators. These hi-tech wonders connect to your iPod (or iPhone – yes, there is an app for that!) and set the rhythm to whatever music you choose. Gives the phrase “Plug and Play” a whole new meaning. There was also a large collection of vibrators made famous on Sex And The City. Remember The Rabbit? There is a wide variety on that theme – Hop’n Jackrabbit, The Pearl, The Bath Time Bunny and more. The Rabbit has a lot going on with it – multi speeds, parts for internal and external pleasures, independent gyrating sections, etc. Need something a bit more specific? Try the Sqweel – a ten-tongued, multi-speed rotating, uh, gizmo that only stops when you do or the batteries die. (I couldn’t help laughing when I saw it in action as it made me think of those old alien spaceship miniatures used on the original Star Trek.)

Past the vast vibrator section (There was one named “Better Than Chocolate“!) is a huge section of dildos — all shapes, sizes and colors, including some shaped like fists and hands. There were the Classic Cocks (8″, 10″ and 12”) and the Classic Dongs along with the Ballsy Supercock (One Size Fits Most). Point of order here please: What is the difference between a cock and a dong in dildo parlance? There were also “soft pack” dildos – “flaccid and realistic looking cocks to bulk up your bulge” (not usable for penetration). I guess if the ladies stuff their bras, the guys can stuff their undies. I had just never thought of it before! (And they were quite soft.)

Of course there is a section for anal play with Classic Butt Plugs and Smooth Butt plugs. I’m going to be honest that if I had a choice, I would choose the Smooth. Of course I would have to get the Butt Plug Starter Kit before any of that could happen. There was also a Jellies Butt Plug that made me think more of the awesome shoes I wore in the 80’s than it made me think of a sex toy…

In the back of the store is the BDSM section with some amazing masks and crops and chains and leashes. There were ball gags and even beginner ball gags for those just starting out. The ball gags were right next to the mini feather body ticklers which seemed like an odd juxtaposition, but then, as mentioned, I’m pretty square.

The store is large and there is a whole section of videos, another large section for party games and an entire wall of lube – all styles and flavors. They have testers so you can feel and taste the lube before you buy. There are cute panties and lingerie (not a huge selection, but a there was a variety) and even a smoke shop section. There are greeting cards and candles and valentine themed candy. The book section brings together erotica, sex health and even a cook books. Intercourses has fun recipes for all moods and flavors and is a personal favorite.

An image I *can* include in this blog post.

The Pleasure Chest is a phenomenal resource for sex education. They hold classes and workshops regularly on all topics: fellatio, cunnilingus, masturbation, anal sex, dirty talk, spanking and BDSM (among others). They can even design a workshop to your specific need. They will even help you host parties and fundraisers as well.

When I got there last night, there was a class just starting about Oral Sex. A gay man and a straight woman (I think, I didn’t hear her introduction) gave the class (the class was PACKED!) and from what I overheard while I was browsing, they were really giving a great tutorial on everything from how to talk to your partner about fantasies and wishes to detailed anatomy and how your naughty bits actually work. There was lots of laughter and lots of really good straight-forward information.

Once you buy your costume at Forplay, head over to the Pleasure Chest to get everything else you’ll need for that hot night and life of fun!

The Pleasure Chest (love their logo!)
7733 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood
323-650-1022

And don’t worry – if you are still too shy to actually go to the store, you can always shop their online store!

Classic Eats #14 – The Deets

Classic Eats #14 is on Saturday February 19!

And while normally I set up a voting system and give you options to choose from, I’m going to make it so much easier for all of us. (And by “all of us” I mean me.) Classic Eats #14 is going to be a reprise of Classic Eats #2: Downtown Delights – Union Station and Phillipe’s.

It was two years ago (how time flies) that we had a great gang of folks come down to Traxx at Union Station for a cocktail before walking the two blocks to Phillipe’s where we all had some classic LA nosh and a star sighting to boot! (Adam Arkin)

I want to relive that awesome night and I want you to join in.

Classic Eats #14 – Downtown Delights
Saturday February 19
5:30 at Traxx inside Union Station
7:00 (ish) at Phillipe’s

Union Station – Traxx – Classic cocktails in a classic location. All your train travel fantasies come true.

Phillipe‘s – They claim to be the original french dip sandwich place! Their mustard is pretty damn good too. I should know.

Classic Eats!

This Old House Comes To Los Angeles

Honest to goodness celebrities: Kevin O'Connor and Norm Abram

When you hear Reality Show you might first think of Survivor or American Idol, Top Chef or Project Runway. If you are a fan of PBS you probably think of the first and finest reality show of them all: This Old House. And after nearly 30 years on the air, TOH has come to Los Angeles for its first ever LA remodel. (Watch the video sneak peak here.)

You might find it hard to believe that there is actually anything “old” in LA to renovate, right? Since we are famous for our facelifts and all. This sweet Spanish Revival house in Silver Lake is getting more of a “gentle spa treatment” than an “ass-fat injection to the cheekbones” operation. The original two bedroom, one bath floorplan was fine for the married couple when they moved in 12 years ago, but now with two small kids, it was time for more space and more bathrooms.

This Old House is about education and part of every house redo series includes stories of the local craftspeople who work on various details of the house. Look for visits to the tile company that recreates 30’s style tile for the bathrooms and kitchen, the iron workers making new wrought iron and the roofers who reuse the old roof tiles and tell you the history of how these 70 year old tiles were originally made. TOH will also visit Frank Lloyd Wright houses and Richard Neutra sites so we can all see that LA actually has some awesome architectural street cred.

The homeowners Kurt and Mary were not looking for the limelight (far from it), but were very pleased to have their general contractor approach them to be part of the show. What better record of your home remodel than a full documentation on This Old House? Plus you get to meet master carpenter Norm Abram!! (Seriously that guy rocks the woodwork.)

This Old House: The Los Angeles Project begins airing on KOCE this Thursday (1/27) at 7:00pm. (Check your local listings as different cable/dish providers may have a different schedule.)

Kevin, Norm, Mary and Kurt (Homeowners), Steve Pallrand (General Contractor)

(All Photos by Image Group LA and used with permission by This Old House.)

(Full disclosure: I am friends with the homeowners, but sadly I have not met Norm.)

Sweet Charity: Blogging LA’s Guide To Giving-Help A Mother Out

When you think about “helping the poor and homeless” the concept can be so huge and in some ways abstract that it’s hard to know where to start. Food? Shelter? Clothing? Medical care? Education? Training programs? It’s overwhelming. For me, Help A Mother Out is so specific that it makes it so easy to make a difference.

The facts are these: Diapers and baby wipes are not covered under social safety net programs like WIC and food stamps. And diapers are expensive. And you need a lot of them every day. Poor and homeless families often have to decide between food, rent and diapers. Babies can go without a clean diaper for days, leading to health problems for the baby and more stress for the family.

Help A Mother Out is working to bridge the gap and provide diapers for those in need. While HAMO is based in San Francisco, they have an LA/SoCal branch run by the amazing and tireless Kim Tracy Prince. Along with being a working mom of two, Kim makes time to organize diaper drives and raise awareness of this growing problem.

Earlier this week I attended the final day of the Glendale diaper drive. (I had written about it in November.) A variety of groups, along with Help A Mother Out worked to raise 22,833 diapers in two weeks. Awesome! At the Glendale armory, over 16,000 diapers (I helped count) were there for an official photo and then to be distributed to specific organizations that would hand them out to families who needed them. The overall event was for homeless awareness in general and we handed out diapers to homeless moms with their kids right then and there.

I was particularly touched as I helped a woman who works for Door Of Hope in Glendale. Door of Hope is a transitional housing organization to help homeless families get back on their feet. This dedicated woman specifically works with battered and abused women and children who have left bad situations, sometimes with almost nothing but the clothes on their backs. She had a list of the 11 babies (newborn to toddlers) currently living there who needed diapers. One of the moms was going through chemo and had a one year old. The Door Of Hope woman asked me, “Do you think I could get two boxes of diapers for her?” It was all I could do to A) not burst into tears and B) not put all the diapers you see above in her car.

So this holiday season or even in the New Year — it doesn’t matter when, because there is always a need — please consider donating money or diapers to Help A Mother out. Go to their website and find the “Donate Now” button or if you have diapers you want to drop off in person, click here to find out how to do that. And you can donate diapers online. Click here to find out how.

Every baby deserves a clean diaper!

And if you are wondering about cloth diapers, here is the info about that from the HAMO website:

Our greatest need is for disposable diapers (traditional brand or eco-friendly). However, we gratefully accept NEW cloth pocket diaper kits, similiar to Econobum diaper kits, for distribution to a small percentage of the families we serve. Why? For the vast majority of our partner’s clients, cloth diapers are not a realistic option. We recommend reading the Diaper Divide as a primer on this debate. The Cloth Diaper Foundation is a nonprofit organization that primarily helps families in need get started with cloth diapering, and they accept donations of new and gently used cloth diapers.

Kim Tracy Prince (left) and over 16,000 diapers.

(And yes, I put my money where my blog post is. I have personally donated about 1000 diapers this year.)

Sweet Charity: Blogging.LA’s Guide To Giving-UCLA Blood and Platelets Center

There are many ways to give – donating money or time or expertise. Donating blood or platelets (or plasma or red blood cells) is an extra special way to give, to literally give of yourself. During the holidays maybe you might consider taking an hour from all the shopping and wrapping and sit quietly while you donate blood. Or better yet, take two to three hours, lay back, watch a movie in a comfy lounge chair and donate platelets. Or consider a new year’s resolution to donate. Your donation saves lives.

I’ve written about donating platelets before and often encourage people to give it a try. Donating blood and/or platelets is crucial for so many reasons. Here is info from the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center website:

A Cancer Patient can require up to 2 units of platelets per week. (And donated platelets only last about 4-5 days once donated, blood can be stored longer.)

An Automobile Accident Victim can use up to:

  • 50 units of red blood cells
  • 2 units of platelets
  • 10 units of plasma

A Liver Transplant Recipient uses on average:

  • 25 units of red blood cells
  • 5 units of platelets
  • 40 units of plasma

A Stem Cell Transplant Recipient can use up to:

  • 10 units of red blood cells
  • 10 units of platelets with ongoing outpatient transfusion needs

A Heart Surgery Patient uses on average:

  • 7 units of red blood cells
  • 2 units of platelets
  • 4 units of plasma
Gorgeous life saving platelets!

I hope none of you ever find yourself in any of those situations, but if you do, or it happens to a loved one, knowing there is enough life saving blood and blood products out there will give some relief.

Not everyone can donate (for various reasons) so please call and see if you are eligible, then make an appointment. There are many places to donate around Los Angeles, ULCA’s Center just happens to be nearest to me.

Oh and here’s the part where you get something out of it – other than the joy and satisfaction of contributing a part of yourself – at UCLA (and maybe at other places) they give you thank you gifts of movie tickets or gift cards (jamba juice, starbucks, etc). How nice is that? Plus the yummy juice and cookies waiting for you in the resting area when you are done donating.

Make 2011 a year in which you donate blood or other blood products!

UCLA Blood and Platelet Center
1045 Gayley Avenue
2nd Floor
Los Angeles, CA, 90024
(310) 825-0888

ICME: Frosty!

This happy Frosty greeted me at an intersection yesterday while I waited for the light. He’s so happy and festive that I had to take a picture. I wonder what is in the present at his feet.

Merry Merry!

(click image to big-a-fy)