Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mr. Pickles

My mom and I love trying out new places to eat!  On our way to LA about a week ago, we needed lunch.  We drove around a shopping center and ended up at Mr. Pickles.  All of their sandwiches have fun names!

My mom ordered the Fast Eddy.  It's just a hot roast beef sandwich with bbq sauce and cheddar cheese.

I ordered a special - the Ren Diesel (I have no idea what that is).  It was a bit different...turkey, cream cheese, avocado and bacon.  It was too delicious!

I don't know if I really want to go there again...or if I'd rather try a new place.  It's a toss-up!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Holidays Recap

I am Jewish from my mom's side and my dad's side does a family dinner and present exchange on I do a bit of both.  I wanted to share some nice pictures with everyone of my holiday festivities.

The first night of Chanukah

The last night of Chanukah.  I love how pretty all of the candles look.

My little cousin Riley and my sister building his Star Wars spaceships.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year 2012 Giveaway Hop

I am participating in another book-themed giveaway hop - yay!

This giveaway hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Babs Book Bistro.  There are currently over 200 blogs participating!!!  The giveaway hop goes through January 3rd so you have a few days to enter.

I am giving away a $10 Amazon gift card.  After you enter my giveaway, be sure to check out the linky below and enter all of the other giveaways!

Please please please only enter using Rafflecopter.  Blog comments will not count.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am sponsoring my own prize.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Eden Prescription - Free on Kindle!

Back in September I gave away 5 kindle copies of "The Eden Prescription".  I am happy to let you all now that through December 30th, Ethan is giving away free copies of his book on Kindle to anyone who wants it at

I was drawn into the story line of the book from the very first page.  To summarize the book in a sentence...What would happen if someone discovered natural supplements that cured cancer better than chemo?  That question is answered in The Eden Prescription.  Not only are there two rival drug companies at war in this book, but there are so many moles and spies that you will never know who is on what side!  Annika Guthrie works for pharmaceutical company Chromogen but is working with Dr. Elliott Lindell who works for the rival company called Mitogenica.  Both companies are working to create the next big chemo drug, all while their employees are working on a natural supplement and slipping it to drug trial patients.  

My favorite thing about this book is that it is something that could be going on in real life right now!  The book is so well-researched and well-written that it's hard to believe it is fiction!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Xmas Decorations - Part 2

There are so many awesome decorations in my neighborhood that I just had to do at least one more post!  Below are some more of my favorites:

Here is a clearer shot of the Santa that comes out.

Snow family ;)

These bears are one of my favorites this year!


"Hip" Santa!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spring Garden in Ventura, CA

As you can tell from my blog, my family loves to eat.  A while ago an ad popped up on my mom's Kindle for a voucher for a Chinese restaurant about 30 minutes away called Spring Garden in Ventura, CA.  Last weekend, we decided to try it out.

My mom, my dad, my sister and I all have different tastes but we like to order family style so we ordered 4 dishes plus fried rice.  Below are the delicious dishes we ordered:

Fried rice.  This came with the meal.  It only had some pieces of egg in it so I loved it!

Orange beef.  This beef was amazingly tender and the sauce was delicious.

Honey walnut shrimp.  I don't eat shrimp but the walnuts were really good LOL

Chicken egg foo young.  I really liked the chicken in this dish but didn't love the patty part for some reason.

Cashew chicken.  This was delicious.  I only wish I had ordered it with white meat.

This place was really, really good.  The service was excellent and the food was all tasty!  Although this restaurant is a bit of a drive for us, I have a hunch we will be going back.  Try out Spring Garden if you are ever in Ventura and craving Chinese food.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Xmas Decoration in My Neighborhood

My mom and I love taking my dog on walks through different parts of the neighborhood all the time so no one gets bored.  This is especially fun in December as everyone has decorations up.

We passed by a house tonight who put up an awesome decoration since the last time we went by their house.  Check out the short video below (I promise to work on my phone video taking skills in the future):

Friday, December 16, 2011


I love SuperPoints!  I was seeing so many bloggers talk about it that I had to try it for myself!  I have been doing it seriously for a few weeks now and am already close to earning a $10 gift card!

To earn points, you do simple things like clicking the SuperLucky Button, watching videos, clicking on their once-a-day emails and completing offers.  You also earn points for every person who joins under you.

If you would like to sign up for this amazing (and free) program, feel free to use one of the below links.  They only work once so if they get used up, comment that you need one and I will list more.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I thought this would be a fun thing to do to go along with the other reading challenge I will be doing in 2012.  This one specifies that you have to read books in your TBR pile.  Since I am committing to 100+ books in 2012, I am going to aim for the level of "41-50 - Married with Children".

Challenge guidelines: 

  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
  2. As we would like to see quality reviews linked up to our monthly wrap-ups, only bloggers can enter. Sorry about that!
  3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2011 and earlier! NO ARCs and 2012 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2012 TBR PILE Reading Challenge (You need to include the info + host list + challenge button. You can also grab the button code and add it to your sidebar!)
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  8. At the end of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month.For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. For participating in the mini-challenge you will get +1 entry.
  9. If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice - we will be checking ;)
  10. December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - 12 books, 12 winners, INTERNATIONAL. 
  11. You don't have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!

1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children

Evie from Bookish - @SeoEvie
Nicole from All I Ever Read - @Nicoleabouttown
Bonnie from Hands and Home - @HandsHomeBlog
Donna from Book Passion For Life @BookPforLife
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading @caitlingss
Rie from Mission To Read @missiontoread
Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea - @alouetteuette 
Christa from Hooked On Books @ChristasBooks
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction @fansoffiction
Angel from Mermaids Vision @mermaidvisions

Wrap-up POST Schedule:

January - Donna (Theme: Let It Snow + Book Cover Challenge)
February - Nicole (Theme: Un-requited Love/Love Gone Wrong + Advice Column Challenge)
March - Rie (Theme: Green or Pinched + Green Cover Challenge)
April -  Bonnie (Theme: Easter + Mini Challenge)
May - Christa (Theme: MayDay - Disaster Books! + Cover Disaster Challenge)
June - Jenna ( Theme: Camping + Sentence Challenge)
July - Rie (Theme: International Day + Cover Comparison Challenge)
August - Angel (Theme: Summer Memories + Send Your Fav Character On Vacation Challenge)
September - Nicole (Theme: Life Changing Books + Mini Challenge)
October - Caitlin (Theme: Thanksgiving Theme + Share-A-Book Challenge)
November - Vicky (Theme: Spooky Halloween + Book Puzzle Challenge)
December - Evie (Theme: Xmas Bliss + Book Bachelor Challenge)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Droid App - Hanging With Friends

My best friend convinced me to download an app called Hanging with Friends.  I don't like Words with Friends, but I was willing to do this one because it is more like Hangman.  It's also cool because you can log in through your facebook and see which of your friends play.

When you pick someone, you make a word for them to guess.  After they guess at it, they make a word for you.  Whoever loses 5 times is out.

I am having a ton of fun playing, but I also lose most of the time!  Most importantly this app is free.

What is your favorite app?

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Pets!

It's been a while since I have posted about my pets so I thought I would go ahead and do that :)

I have a cocker spaniel named Hunter and leopard geckos named Chip and Dale.  My geckos live in their own cages but I do like to let them out as often as possible!

A real close-up of Hunter's face.  I love his "freckles"

Chip is just too adorable

Chip crawling on my laptop.

Dale getting ready to shed.

Chip in the process of shedding.  I think it's so cool!

What a happy gecko Chip is :)

Do you have any pets?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Santa Barbara Axxess Blogging...Year 3 #3 - Marmalade Cafe

I am soooooooo not doing well on my goal of trying every restaurant on my Santa Barbara Axxess card.  I am only up to 3 punches and I have had the card for 2 months!  But, I finally went to an Axxess restaurant the other night.  I picked Cafe Marmalade and talked my dad into taking me.  The deal there is buy 1 entree, get 1 free.

The restaurant wasn't too crowded which was really nice.  We also had an excellent waiter.

I ordered Parmesan Crusted Red Snapper with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach in a lemon sauce. was so good!  I took half home!

Maybe I should have moved the spinach for the picture LOL

My dad ordered Garlic Shrimp Scampi....the half portion.  He loved it of course.  He also took half home!

Please excuse the blurry picture!

We saved 13.99 which is pretty good!  I wish Marmalade would get back some of my old favorite food items but I will still keep going back!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

100+ Books in a Year Reading Challenge 2012

Book Chick City hosts 100+ Books in a Year Reading Challenges every year.  I am going to go for it in 2012.  Wish me luck and read below if you want to sign up!

Challenge Details

• Timeline: Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012

• Rules: Read 100+ books in 2012 (any genre)

• You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.

• You can join at anytime. All books read in 2012 count toward the challenge regardless of when you sign up.

• At the beginning of Jan 2012, you will find a link to specific month to add your reviews.

• Audiobooks do not count, but all other formats are accepted.

• Only fiction, no non-fiction.

• This challenge can crossover to other challenges.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Droid App - Cardio Trainer

Back in January, I finally upgraded to a "smart" phone.  I bought a Droid X.  I only bought a new phone because my old one was dying.  When I first got it, I basically used it to text and realized that was a waste of money.  So....I downloaded some awesome apps!

One app I love is Cardio Trainer.  It records your workouts for you.  It tells you how fast you are walking, how far you have gone, how many steps you have taken, and how many calories you have burned that week.  And the best part of all is that you can post your workouts to facebook!

If you are looking for an app to help you with weight loss, working out and more, check out Cardio Trainer!

*I forgot to mention when I first wrote this post that the app is free!!!

I just wrote this for fun because I like the app.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Two New Restaurants - Asaka and Mama Terano

I did a bad thing....I went out to dinner twice last weekend and forgot to take pictures of our food.  Both restaurants were so amazing though that I want to share them with everyone incase they are ever in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

My grandparents have a routine.  They do the same things all the time.  They buy one kind of chip, visit the same few restaurants, etc.  I can't take it!  I love new things!  So on our last visit to see them, I asked them if it would be okay if we went to new restaurants.  I presented them with a few options and they picked an Italian restaurant named Mama Terano and a Japanese restaurant named Asaka Sushi & Grill.

Asaka was fantastic!  They had my two favorite items and they made them really well.  I love agedashi tofu (basically fried tofu in a sauce) and spider rolls (fried crab sushi).  Do you notice I like fried food?  My mom ordered fish katsu (fried fish...see a pattern?).  My grandparents ordered mixed tempura (shrimp and veggies) and chicken teriyaki.  Everyone loved their food!

Everyone was happy at Mama Terano except for me.  I ordered a cheese gnocchi and it was just bland.  But my mom got potato ravioli in meat sauce and scarfed it down.  My grandparents got chicken parmesan and eggplant parmesan and they both loved it.  We did order garlic bread which I really enjoyed.  I would like to go back there and try a different dish.

I am always scared when suggesting new restaurants so I am thrilled that everyone was happy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

How To: Bake Imitation Red Lobster Biscuits

Like most people, I love the biscuits from Red Lobster.  Since we don't have one within 30 miles of us, I googled how to make their biscuits at home.  I found a really simple recipe.  While I don't know if what I found is an exact duplicate, it is delicious and everyone at Thanksgiving dinner was thrilled!

2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk (I used soy milk because we didn't have regular milk on hand)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted (I used stick butter)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Mix Bisquick, cheese and milk until a soft dough forms.  (I just did this with a big spoon.)

3. Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.

4. Bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown.  (I think ours cooked closer to 12.)

5. Mix melted butter and garlic powder in a bowl.

6. Brush mixture over warm biscuits before removing from baking sheet.

7. Enjoy!

Have you ever made a recipe to mimic one from a restaurant?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop

I am participating in another book-themed giveaway hop - yay!

This giveaway hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Kid Lit Frenzy.  There are currently over 200 blogs participating!!!  The giveaway hop goes through December 6th so you have a few days to enter.

I am giving away a $10 Amazon gift card.  After you enter my giveaway, be sure to check out the linky below and enter all of the other giveaways!

Please please please only enter using Rafflecopter.  Blog comments will not count.

I am sponsoring my own prize.

Winner - Made With Love Giveaway Hop

Congratulations to the winner of the Made With Love Giveaway Hop

Chevelle Sopkin -

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review - Hangman

I love Faye Kellerman.  All of her books are fantastic and I love getting to read about Detective Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus every once in a while.

Hangman is about a hitman named Chris Donatti, his wife, Terry, who goes missing, and their son Gabe.  After Terry goes missing, so does Chris.  With nowhere else to go, Gabe turns to Peter Decker for help.  While the LAPD is searching for Terry, they come across a dead body and the book is all about the two investigations.  It drew me in from the beginning and I read all 536 pages in about two days.

This book was absolutely fantastic!  I would highly recommend it.

I am really excited for Faye Kellerman's next book, Gun Games.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Daughters of Iraq

I love reading.  Because I am Jewish, I especially love reading books about other Jewish people.  I don't go out of my way to search for Jewish novels, but I love coming across them.  When I was approached to review Daughters of Iraq by Revital Shiri-Horowitz, I was thrilled to not only get to read about Jews, but to read about Jews from Iraq (which I have never done before).

The book revolves around three main characters: sisters Farida and Violet and Violet's daughter, Noa.  We get to know Noa and Farida through her present day experiences.  We get to know Farida both in the past and in the present time.  We get to know Violet through a diary she started keeping for her children after she was diagnosed with cancer.  

Farida and Violet's family had to emigrate to Israel from Iraq in the early 20th century.  They had to leave because they were Jews and were not safe in Iraq anymore.  They left all of their wealth behind to start over anew in Israel.

Even though this is a fictional book, it is amazing to watch Noa get to know her mom in a way that she never knew her before.

For Jews and non-Jews alike, I highly recommend this book.  Below is a guest post from Revital titled Writing, family and love.  Please read the guest post and then be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the page.

Writing, family and love
by Revital Shiri-Horowitz

Love is a motto in my life. I aim for love, give love and know that love is the answer to all society's sickness. If we had more love in our troubled world, life would be so much better. I sometimes find myself singing to myself “Imagine” by John Lennon, thinking how clever those words are, and how unlucky he was losing his life to violence.

Love to my husband brought me to marry him and have four boys with him. We lived together for three years before we got married, and just celebrated twenty years of marriage, which put our life together for a total of twenty-three years. (And I may say “knock on wood” for good luck.) I met my husband at a party and fell in love with him then. He is the love of my life, the food to my soul. Thanks to my husband and his constant support I have “A Room of My Own” and I can write.

When I started working on my first novel I was 35. Until then, I never thought of myself as a poet or an author. It took a long time for me to realize that this is what I really would like to do “when I grow up…” I'd written poetry since I was a young child, and wrote diaries since I was ten. I also wrote just a few short stories through the years, but really did not see myself as an author, until one day, while I was a Masters degree student in Tel-Aviv University, something made me angry.

Anger has always been a motivation for me. I aim to change the world to make it into a better place. I am eager to protect the groups of people not getting justice. So there I was... I met a subject that had no justice in my point of view, and that injustice brought me to write my novel, Daughters of Iraq, a novel based on my family's exodus from Iraq to Israel in the 1950s, during a time of Iraqi persecution against their Jews.

It was out of anger, and out of love of writing their story that I was able to complete and publish Daughters of Iraq. When I lecture about my book I always have tears in my eyes from telling my family's story.

Family always comes first for me. I put them first, and this is the reason things take a long time for me to write. Writing my first novel took five years. During that time we had our fourth child. I chose to focus on my kids first. I've been working on a second novel for about four years now, hoping to finish writing it next summer. I call it “baby steps.” I am working slowly toward publishing it. I am working slowly toward being noticed in the whole world. I dream out of love and I dream out of passion. And I dream one day soon now my books will be on shelves in every house.

Be blessed wherever you are, Revital

Links for Revital Shiri-Horowitz:
Barnes & Noble:

The Giveaway:
Please comment below on how love has helped you accomplish what's important to you and enter to win a copy of Daughters of Iraq. In one week, Revital will pick a winner of this book! Available in any ebook format or as a paper copy. Also available in English or in Hebrew. Let us know the format and language when you contact your about winning! We will ship you a copy anywhere in the world.

For the Giveaway Grand Prize: Everyone who comments is eligible to win a lovely Mama Nazima's Jewish Iraqi Cuisine ( Revital will pick a lucky winner at the end of November 2011 and can ship anywhere in the world. Good luck!


What people are saying about Daughters of Iraq:

Flawless narrative and wonderfully drawn characters, whom I came to know and love. -- Georgina Young, Author of The Time Baroness,

Revital's story touches the soul with human kindness, loss, tenderness, hope, the circle of love that weaves all hearts together, a delicate golden thread tying generations into one tapestry of life./Jackie Madden Haugh, My life in a Tutu,

Truly, Revital, I have no words to praise you... You novel one of the best I ever read... --Olga at

I felt that I was actually living within this inspiring story, and with each turn of the page, I became more and more a part of this sad, happy, and historical story. --Simon Palmer, Author of Loosing to Hate

In a twisting plot with intriguing characters Shiri-Horowitz grasps the attention of the reader in a novel that is both instructive and heartfelt. --Anthony Blumfield on

I was provided a copy of this book to read and the author is providing a book to the winner.  No other compensation was received.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Arsenic and Old Lace

I have always loved going to high school plays.  I had friends in theater in high school and have just always gone!  San Marcos High School's fall play is Arsenic and Old Lace. We went last night for opening night and it was fantastic!

I didn't know anything about it so for anyone in my shoes, here is a plot outline.  The story takes place in Brooklyn.  It is about Mortimer Brewster (a play critic) and his crazy family.  We mostly went to see David, the boy who plays his brother, Teddy.  Teddy thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt.  Teddy lives with his aunts who are crazy (but you wouldn't know it!)  They also have a crazy third brother who shows up.

The play had us laughing from the beginning until the very end.  If a theater near you does this play, go see it!  I think I am going to rent the movie with Cary Grant!