Meeting Garry Marshall and Seeing Mother’s Day! #MothersDayMOMS

Garry Marshall has easily made some of the most beloved, iconic pop culture movies for the rom-coms and “chick flick” crowds for decades. Think no further than The Princess Dairies, Valentine’s Day, Beaches, and, of course, Pretty Woman. Beyond that, this unstoppable extraordinaire of a creative soul also created one of the greatest sitcoms from the 1960s  (Happy Days), has written for such legendary shows like The Lucy Show and Dick Van Dyke, and helped launch The Odd Couple into a successful TV series.

Another thing that should be added to Mr. Marshall’s resume? Advocate for women.

A few weeks back, I was invited to spend the day with The MOMS and be one of the first to see Marshall’s latest effort, Mother’s Day, hitting theatres April 29th. Following the film, you have no idea how excited I was to get the chance to meet the man himself, along with Mother’s Day star, Britt Robertson. While they had plenty to discuss and giggle about their latest film, Marshall spent a great deal of time discussing his up-bringing, his sister, Penny’s, road to being the powerhouse she is in the industry, and share memories of his Mom, who taught young Garry a valuable lesson: To not be boring!

So much fun with Fujifilm on site. I have a feature on their instax coming soon!

So much fun with Fujifilm on site. I have a feature on their instax coming soon!

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Garry spoke proudly;y of Penny, and told us that she did not let the powers that be at the studios stop her from making BIG and later,A League of Their Own . When she was first starting out to direct, she was told no one would go to a movie directed by a female. Her response? She became the FIRST female director to bring in over 100 million at the box office, with BIG!

Another topic of discussion was Julia Roberts, whom Marshall easily single-handedly put on THE map when he cast her for Pretty Woman, and, once again, is collaborating with her in Mother’s Day. He shared sweet stories of their friendship; and what its been like knowing her since she was celebrating her 21st birthday on the Pretty Woman set, and, now, needing to squeeze around filming with picking her kids up from school!

Mary and Garry.

Mary and Garry.

In Mother’s Day, the premise is similar to that of his previous movies, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, which are expertly centered around separate groups of stories of characters, who somehow end up intertwining.

There is Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), who is scrambling to keep it all together following a divorce from her hubby (Timothy  Olyphant), who has quickly landed himself a new, sexy wife within 2 minutes. Jesse (Kate Hudson) is happily married to an Indian man and their live-in room mates are Jesse’s siter…and her wife. Do their right-wing, middle America parents have a clue about their daughters spouses? Nope. Jesse’s friend, Kristin (Britt Robertson) is in no rush to wed her boyfriend and Father of her new baby, while Miranda (Julia Roberts) has never been a Mom yet is a business mogul with Home Shopping Network jewelry.

With Britt Robertson, sweetest girl!

With Britt Robertson, sweetest girl!

There are so many classic, “Yep, I’ve been there” moments in Mother’s Day. While you would think I would probably relate best to Robertson’s character (a new Mom trying to figure things out), I really could see some of myself in Sandy. Despite she has teenage kids and has been through a marriage and divorce, I could understand her desire to just feel GOOD. Job hunting and feeling very rejected in her love life, I appreciated Marshall and Aniston’s subtle portrayal of trying to keep everything together, when you just want to crumble inside.

And, furthermore…..this is Jennifer Aniston. A beautiful woman playing someone who can’t get a date? Further proof that no matter WHAT our looks are, that no matter how in shape and awesome and polished we are, we still have struggles. Something Marshall touched on when I asked him if he has any particular favorite film he has done (See below). Agreeing with my belief that no matter our looks, wealth, etc, we still have major ups and downs.

Bravo, Garry and cast for a fantastic film to see with your Mom or special lady this year! xo

“Join” The Riboli Family at San Antonio Winery! #WineWednesday

Los Angeles is massive, no doubt about it. Sometimes, you can definitely feel like a small fish in a huge pond trying to find your way. Thus, why it is the best when you discover your watering holes in the city and the places where “everybody knows your name.” Lucky for me, one of those places is Downtown’s San Antonio Winery.

Rich in history (and celebrating their 100th birthday next year!), I was thrilled to head out to the Lamar Street landmark recently to be a guest at their Barrel Tasting event. As always, theres plenty of decadent foods being served, and, of course, the vino flowing!

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Fun with Pilar, Melissa and Arnaud!

Fun with Pilar, Melissa and Arnaud!

Over the course of nearly 3 hours, we got an in-depth look at the barrel process for wine making, and an insider’s look at just how our wines get to the bottle. From the difference of an oak barrel to a steel, San Antonio’s French winemaker, Arnaud Debons and San Antonio’s  Manager, Dominic Menton took us through this fascinating journey and gave us the unique opportunity to taste wines RIGHT from the barrel, and explained how the same grape can produce an extremely different outcome depending on the barrel it was made in. We were also treated to trying out the wines once in their bottle and ready to go home for enjoyment.

While all 3 of San Antonio’s locations (Los Angeles, Ontario and Paso Robles, respectively) have fantastic events just like this one throughout the year, it got me thinking: Why not take this passion a step further and join The Riboli  Family?! Ok, well, kind of.  San Antonio has 2 wonderful wine clubs that invite you to become a member and get in on terrific wines, members-only events, tours, discounts and more. Next best thing to joining the family, right?

Arnaud Debons

Arnaud Debons

Dominic Menton

Dominic Menton

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I cannot think of a more perfect gift for the special ladies in your life who love a great glass (or 2) of wine. Not only will you get some of the best San Antonio wines shipped to your door 3 times a year, but you also get to visit the wineries and receive generous discounts on San Antonio select wines and items. Bonus perk: When you visit the LA location, they also have a fabulous restaurant, Maddalena. Wine taste, shop, eat. What could be better?!

Learn more about The San Antonio Wine Club HERE and treat someone special (and yourself!) to joining The Riboli Family. xo

(*Disclosure: I was invited to The San Antonio Winery barrel tasting. All opinions are my own.)

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Travel the World at Yogurtland as Flavor Quest Returns!

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Who doesn’t love frozen yogurt? Its been a love affair for me since I was a little girl. Over the years, several frozen yogurt chains have come and gone, yet, one that is clearly here to stay is Yogurtland and its no secret why they have become the leading one stop shop for your fro yo fix; All of the Irvine-based restaurants flavors meet the National Yogurt Association Criteria for “live and active culture frozen yogurt” and are produced in a kosher-certified facility. Yogurtland features non-fat and low-fat yogurt flavors as well as non-dairy and no sugar added choices while using milk that does not contain antibiotics or added hormones. As for the sorbet, fruit flavors are fortified with Vitamin C for an extra boost.

Whats not to love, right?! I was so excited when a gift card from Yogurtland arrived in my mailbox with an invite to stop in and try all of this year’s flavors they had dreamed up for their “Flavor Quest”promotion. Since I cannot make it to The Middle East or Thailand this week (darn), I decided to instead celebrate #TravelTuesday by trying out some of their featured flavors.

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Yogurtland’s big international flavor mixer, serving up sensational new flavors inspired by destinations from around the world, has arrived once again for the fourth annual Flavor Quest that will go through June 1st.

Fans young and old can go on a global culinary journey with nine hand crafted, custom flavors and three new toppings, in honor of nine countries around the world. A new flavor launches each week and will be available for two weeks. 

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The featured flavors will be:

–        Indonesian Chocolate Java Cake – This decadent dessert takes the cake with rich chocolate and subtle notes of coffee to create this Indonesian-inspired perfection.

–        English Toffee – Blended with real butter toffee sauce, this rich gourmet sweetness will bring out your British side.

–        Thailand Mango Coconut Tart – Taste a true tropical treat from Thailand and one of the country’s most beloved culinary combos. This flavor pairs two of the best mango varietals in the world and blended it with coconut water for a lightly tart flavor that refreshes your taste buds.

–        Austrian Apple Strudel with Caramel – A new take on the classic Austrian dessert, this flavor blends real caramel, apples and notes of cinnamon for a delectable treat.

–        Middle Eastern Fig & Honey Gelato – To create this sweet combination, figs, a staple from the Middle East, are paired with a touch of honey to create a rich and sophisticated gelato.

–        Mexican Horchata – With real cinnamon and almonds, this creamy treat is an authentic spoonful of the deliciously sweet and popular Mexican rice drink.

–        Argentinian Dulce De Leche Cookie – Creamy dulce de leche is combined with shortbread cookies to create an irresistible South American flavor.

–        New Zealand Kiwi Raspberry Sorbet – This flavor-packed sorbet blends real raspberries and kiwi fruit to create a naturally sweet and crisp combination.

–        American Peanut Butter Parfait – Enjoy a taste of true Southern comfort food without the guilt. This no sugar added flavor combines rich vanilla with real peanut butter for a delicious spoonful of flavor.

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When I popped into my shop, I got to select from Thailand Mango Coconut Tart , Austrian Apple Strudel with Caramel  and Middle Eastern Fig & Honey Gelato. Since the apple strudel was not gluten-free, the other 2 were and they were AMAZING, especially since you could swirl the Fig and Honey with my favorite: their Columbian Coffee! Adding honey to coffee has become all the rage, and its easy to see why; especially when the creaminess to the yogurt nearly makes this taste just like your morning java treat!

Make sure to stop by to your Yogurtland and try out all these new flavors for Flavor Quest. Once its gone, its gone!

When was the last time you went to Yogurtland? xo

(*Disclosure: I received a Yogurtland gift card for this review. All opinions are my own.)

 

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Quick and Delicious Gluten Free Pillsbury Funfetti Fruit Pizza

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Once a week, Michael and I have been hosting a group of friends  for a night of binge watching a TV show. Currently? We have Dexter night. Now, mind you, I am NOT usually a fan of gory, violent shows. But, man, Dexter was pretty easy to get addicted to and we’ve even had to increase how many we watch per evening because we’re hooked!

Part of the fun of these kick back gatherings is the FOOD, of course. We keep it pot luck style and this week I decided to tackle a dessert. This was in part to the recipe on the side of my Pillsbury Gluten Free Funfetti cookie mix ;)

Ready to go in the oven.

Ready to go in the oven.

I go way back with Pillsbury; they were one of the first main brand baking companies to offer gluten-free products and I have always been a fan. I honestly have NEVER even had their “regular” Funfetti cookie and cake mixes. This might sound sad to some, but, in all honesty, all I hear is you cannot tell the difference with their gluten-free version, and I put it to the test as I set out to create a spring fruit pizza.

Not only is this a great, quick recipe, but, HELLO, its cookie as a pizza crust, and an array of fruits in season. It looks pretty, but we were quick to devour it as we settled in to watch our show.

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What you will need:

  • No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 1 package Pillsbury Funfett Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup Orange Marmalade jam
  • 4 to 5 cups fresh fruit combination, such as sliced strawberries, sliced kiwi, whole small berries, cubed pineapple, etc.

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PREP:

  • HEAT oven to 375°F. Coat 12-inch pizza pan with no-stick cooking spray.
  • COMBINE cookie mix, oil, water and egg in medium bowl. Mix with spoon until evenly moistened. Press evenly onto prepared pan, just to the edge, to form a crust. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack. (I cooked 15 minutes)
  • BEAT cream cheese and marmalade in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread on cooled crust. Arrange fruit on top of pizza just before serving.

While the package said to “Serve immediately”, I went ahead and kept in the fridge til our company arrived, then we enjoyed every bite of this pizza dessert.

Ta da!

Ta da!

Have you had a Pillsbury Funfetti dessert lately?!  xo

 

 

Lets Talk Pinterest! #SocialMediaMonday

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Happy fresh new week, peeps! I hope you had a wonderful weekend….and your coffee is strong for your Monday ;) A few weeks ago, I attended a great class held at General Assembly in Santa Monica; General Assembly is the place to be if you have a passion for the internet and tech world. From web-design courses, to graphic design to social media, General Assembly has certainly proven themselves to be the hot spot for us tech nerds here in LA.

Having yet to make it out to one of their crash courses, I finally did when I heard the unstoppable Lindsay Tredent Mauch would be a leading a Social Media Boot Camp. My firm belief in life is that your peers should be those you want to be like in life; your role models, basically, and Lindsay is one of those peers. The 8 hour class was awesome and I look forward to reporting back in the coming weeks on some tips and tricks learned. This week? A few tid bits for letting PINTEREST build your empire!

So, Pinterest is this super handy web-site that enables readers on websites to share an article or picture they like on the web via Pinterest by “pinning” it to their board and therefore, more eyes see the article. Example:

Say, I read an incredible gluten-free recipe on a site like this one, I mosey on down to the share buttons at the end of the recipe and select that red “P”icon; That takes me to Pinterest and I decide to pin this post to my Food and Recipes board. Easy, right? Well, I have just helped spread the word further on this recipe and web-site.

While I have known many bloggers love Pinterest for its search, keywords and traffic abilities, hearing Lindsay speak of it reminded me that all those who care about social media should be on it, too. When you utilize Pinterest for your blog and web-site and use the right key words, Google will reward you as well as the site itself which has well over 100 million active users….a month. Insane, right? This is why you should be on Pinterest.

When I have had social media clients ask me about Pinterest, I am quick to say: Lets make you a blog tab. Having a web-site with simply a home page, About and Contact is not enough to help you with PInterest. Pinterest thrives on articles with great eye-catching pictures. This is because you need an article for a PInterest user to click onto once your picture on your Pinterest board attracts them.

Some of my boards....

Some of my boards….

Try this exercise….

If you are a writer/blogger: Share an article/post by you and when you see the sharing option appear, there should be a selection of pictures to choose from that are in the article. Choose the best one, put it on a board, ensure there are some good key words (Key words should be simple, nothing fancy. If it’s a travel piece on your time in, say, New York City, use that, as well as NYC, Travel, Manhattan, etc) and click pin. Then, do some re-pinning from similar boards. This will help your article get exposure.

If you don’t have a web-site with articles or a blog, try re-pinning some articles and pictures on your boards that are similar to you. Like any other social media channel, you need to put in some time and reciprocation in order to see re-pins, follow backs, etc.

As always, I am available for crash courses, social media management and tutorials if you’re ever interested! Contact me anytime at alongcomesmary26@gmail.com! :)

 

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Disney’s The Jungle Book Hits Theatres TODAY!

Jungle Book

The movie event to be at in Los Angeles was a media screening  this week of Disney’s The Jungle Book at The El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. It is pretty obvious by now I never turn down the opportunity to head on out to The El Capitan with my man, even if we are rushing in Monday night traffic!

I was both excited and skeptical to see Disney’s latest effort; a re-telling of their 1967 animated classic, The Jungle Book. While I know I saw  the original when I was young, my recollection is weak. Still, I wondered, how will they pull off a feature-length telling the tale of talking animals and a wolf-cub-man, while being live action?

Silly me, I forgot, this is DISNEY, people. They rarely put out a mediocre effort, and The Jungle Book was anything but that.

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Telling the tale of young Mowgli(Neel Sethl), an orphan taken in by  Bagheera (Sir Ben Kingsley), a black panther, whom subsequently turns him over to a family of wolves who raise Mowgli just as one of them while Bagheera always keeps a close eye on the young man he rescued as an infant.

Tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba) is not so welcoming of this human acting as a wolf cub, and threatens the lives of Mowgli and his adopted family. Forcing  the boy head on out  into his own and in search of “The Man Vill;age”, Mowgli becomes lost and frighteningly, fending for himself.

Thank goodness that, along the way, he encounters his new BFF, Baloo the bear. And, yes, my friends, if you were wondering, the voice of Baloo is  brilliantly played by Bill Murray. Being a film “late bloomer”, I just recently saw him in Groundhog Day, at last, and it has easily become one of my favorite films. So, to hear Murray in this role, was pure genius to me.

King Louie!

King Louie!

While he certainly has the elements of the Baloo we know and love from both the original movie and the 90s cartoon, Tale Spin, Murray also adds a fun, more, dare I say, grown up, spin to his Baloo. A chill, cool bear in the jungle, he originally saves Mowgli from devious snake, Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and soon enlists Mowgli to help him climb up mountains to get honey from the killer bees. Soon enough? Baloo has let this jungle savvy boy into his heart and they become buddies for life.

The biggest question I have been asked thus far is, do they sing the songs?! And I have great news, my friends, Murray leads a rousing, lazy day rendition of The Bare Necessities….and, another beloved track is also sang in The Jungle Book….

When Mowgli is kidnapped by a team of monkeys and returned to none other than King Louie, we soon realize that voice of the one and only Christopher Walken. There is quite a bit of dialogue exchanged in the scenes with Walken, which made me assume he would not be singing and was I wrong!

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Walken sings the most sinister, haunting, downright ,creepy, version of the Disney classic I wanna Be Like You, originally brought to life by Louis Prima. This is something I vividly know from the animated version; Prima’s distinctive voice, and the upbeat, jazz-y beats to the song.. The 2016 cover by Walken? Not at all what you might remember.

Often, I am a firm believer in when doing a cover of a song, that you turn it upside down and that is what Disney has done with the new take on I Wanna Be LIke You. I thought it was perfect and a great, unique re-telling of the tune.

While The Jungle Book is visually stunning, and the cast is phenomenal, I will advise in bringing your little ones. There are many scary elements to this film and if your child gets afraid easily, this is not the movie for you. I would recommend this movie to those 10 and up, as well as a great, fun date night  for you and your significant other.

The Jungle Book is open nationwide TODAY! I hope you will check it out and tell me your thoughts! xo

Snacking Made Easy Thanks to Sprouts!

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Lets face it, it is more easy to SAY you are going to eat healthy than actually stick with it. I try so very hard to go on my binges of “No more candy in the house. When I crave that, reach for an apple.” I do pretty well, overall, but some days? I want to have my cake and eat it, too.

Luckily, we are in a day and age where more people than not know what the heck “Gluten” is (Or at-least that many of us are allergic to the protein paste in wheat and grains) and over half of consumers are demanding to know if their food is GMO-free.

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This is when Sprouts Farmers Market comes in. I like to think of myself as Goldilocks and the health food stores around here are my “chairs” and “Porridge”; some markets out there are much too pricey for my budget, some don’t have the brands that I love and Sprouts? Sprouts is just right!

On a recent trek over to Sprouts, I was on the search for grub that can fill in those gaps in the day when it’s not breakfast, lunch or dinner, but, you NEED to eat or you will become nasty. Especially, since I do a lot of my work from home, I like having options throughout the day and knowing at the end of the day I haven’t had all junk.

Mike really loves cinnamon cereals, and Cascadian Farms has an excellent Cinnamon Crunch that is not only GMO and artificial chemical free, but also organic along with everything else! For my breakfast, or, more like an 11am snack/brunch (I never eat much when I first wake up), I have been loving creating my own yogurt parfaits with Mountain High Original Style Plain Yogurt. I’ll add in some berries, granola, whatever floats my boat and voila, the perfect yogurt as I sip my coffee and do work on my porch with my….er, co-workers…..

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Sprouts3

I’ve been a huge fan of Annie’s products for as long as I can remember, and luckily I always know that the price will be RIGHT if I grab my goods at Sprouts. Whether its their Wisconsin cheddar mac ‘n cheese or their line of Goddess salad dressings, the go-to that is always “in my bag” would have to be their fruits snacks Bunny Berry Patch….they’re shaped like a bunny and NOT the gummies you’ll find at the convenient store….

Perfect sized baggy of gummies!

Perfect sized baggy of gummies!

Something else I am trying to watch out for, especially since I am gluten-free, is watching my corn intake. Corn is a very cheap grain that is more often than not sourced from genetically engineered organisms. Now, I love me a tortilla chip as much as the next taco-obsessed chick, but, I am aware not all food is created equal. Food Should Taste Good (best brand name ever, right?) has my favorite tortilla chips since they’re made out of brown rice and quinoa. From salsa dipping to hummus, they’ve got an entire line of varieties to select from and they’re all FANTASTIC.

Sprouts is currently hosting a fabulous “Get and Give Back Sweepstakes” where  five lucky winners will be selected to receive a $2,000 Sprouts gift card and nominate a local food bank in their community to receive a $2,000 monetary donation.

Check them out HERE and I will see you at Sprouts Farmers Market! xo

Help Launch your Website with Groupon Coupons!

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(This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own)

Welcome to a special Wednesday edition of Social Media Monday! I’ve had a lot of people ask me about starting their own blog or web-site. With this being my blog-aversary week (4 years, baby!), nothing makes me happier than when my friends say they want to do what I do. The good news? Its super easy and rewarding and anyone can do what I do. While there really is no “bad news”, I will admit, it can be intimidating to start your own web-site.

While you can easily start a free blog through WordPress, Weebly or Blogger, this will not work for you if you wish to monetize your blog. This means doing sponsored posts, having ads on your page or even hosting giveaways. This is why its crucial to buy a domain name and self-host your blog. When I first heard these terms, I wanted to run for the hills.

The good news is, I have found such great support in using GoDaddy. GoDaddy is your one stop shop for all things involving online marketing, website design, domains and hosting. On top of all their services, they also have fantastic customer support and super affordable deals. Especially if you utilize Groupon Coupons! ;)

Groupon

Groupon is easily my favorite web-site for discounts on any and everything. From trips and events, to helping me save a few dollars on my social media managing (through deals with GoDaddy as well as Dell computers, and did I mention they’ve got some pretty sweet discounts at shops like JCPenney?!)

So, if you’re ready to take the plunge and start your own blog ventures, definitely see if Groupon Coupons have some promos you can use. And, as always, i’m here to help you get your blog off the ground, as well as answer any questions about big words like “Self Hosting” or “html coding”. Email me at alongcomesmary26@gmail.com and lets chat! xo

Jesse Eisenberg’s The Revisionist at The Wallis. #TheatreTuesday

Photo credit: Kevin Parry

Photo credit: Kevin Parry

In Hollywood, it is not uncommon to see a successful movie star take the leap to other creative  outlets. Think no further than Jodie Foster, Steve Martin or Ethan Hawke. A newer name to join the club? Jesse Eisenberg. While he is best-loved for such zany roles in Adventureland, Rio, as well as his Academy Award nominated portrayal of Facebook mogul, Mark Zuckerberg, Eisenberg is also an extremely talented playwright. I got to see his words come to life on stage when I attended The Revisionist at The Wallis Theatre last week.

The Revisionist takes us along from New York to Poland as young sci-fi writer, David (Seamus Mulcahy), has set his sights on his Polish cousin’s flat, Maria (Deanna Dunagan). Maria is a survivor of the holocaust and we can immediately feel her loneliness within her home as she anxiously awaits some company and quality time with David.

David, arriving 3 hours late, could really care less about Maria. HIs family, in general, for that matter. Six weeks late to get his first draft of his 2nd book in, Maria makes the mistake of thinking this will be a fun trip for the two of them. Patient and kind, she urges David to eat dinner, chat with her and watch  Wolf Blitzer on the television. David is not afraid to be the ignorant, rather cold young man he is, and continues to shun Maria in her ongoing attempts to connect with a relative whom she feels has traveled so many miles to visit her and her motherland.

Photo credit: Kevin Parry

Photo credit: Kevin Parry

As this 100 minute play progresses, we slowly begin to see just how heart breaking Maria’s life has been, and just how far she has gone to feel close to family in the USA. While David has moments that you think he may just have a heart, he somehow always rebounds back to his selfish ways and you begin to question your own motives; just how self-absorbed are you?? Do you put a sad face on your friends Facebook status then just move on with your day with no further empathy?

How far will you go to be compassionate, kind, before getting to your wit’s end? There are several layers to The Revisionist that gets you thinking and questioning.

The Wallis presents The Revisionist

Photo credit: Kevin Parry

For its strengths, there were moments that became a bit repetitive; some of the back and forth bantering could have been reduced. When there are run ins with Marias friend, a drunk cab driver named Zenon (Ilia Volok), much of the arguments are exchanged in Polish, and I felt that perhaps I could have been missing something of note to the plot, which, obviously, would be lost on me.

It is no surprise that Dunagan is a Tony award-winning performer. She knows just how much vulnerability to give to her Maria and when to take the performance to the next level. An effortless balance! Mulcahy expertly takes us very deep into the characters depths and emotions of self hate, insecurities and self-centered traits. A dead ringer for Eisenberg which is fitting as the playwright also originated the role of David.

Jesse Eisenberg’s The Revisionist plays at The Wallis Annenberg for the Arts in Beverly Hills through April 17th. Performances are selling out so get more information and book your tickets HERE! xo

(*Disclosure: I received media comps to attend this show on behalf of this review. All opinions are my own.)

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Lunch at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern

Sometimes, you just have to sit back and remind yourself how lucky you are if you live in California. Our Spring has been absolutely gorgeous with flowers blooming, warm weather and plenty of sunshine. Its a regular round of “Zip A Dee Doo Dah” in Los Angeles…..

Hanging at The Village in Woodland Hills

Hanging at The Village in Woodland Hills

On one of these recent, gorgeous days, I was able to catch up with my friend, Jennifer from Real Mom of SFV. She invited me along to check out the grub and wines on tap at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern at Westfield Topanga’s promenade, The Village.

Upon entering Jimmy’s, I was struck with how open and air-y the space was. Plenty of room,  patio and indoor dining, with a wide bar in the center, I knew this was my kind of place to get lunch and try  one of their wines on tap.

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Despite it was just the 2 of us, most booths are wide and can easily sit up to 6 people. I decided to try their ’13 Simi Wines Sauvignon Blanc and it was the most refreshing, floral white I’ve had in a while. The nose on my glass when I first smelled was all PEARS!  Being one of my favorite fruits, I knew I was going to love it. While it would have been easy to enjoy this glass and keep ordering refills, I lingered with it and it paired perfectly with my dish.

The starters at Jimmy’s are enough to fill you up; from dips to calamari, they have several to choose from and have something for whatever you’re craving. Jen and I decided on their parmesan garlic fries. I am a huge fan of thick French fries, these were thin which I felt made it a bit more difficult to enjoy the array of cheese and spices on top of them. We paired them with their famous Chipotle sauce that has a BBQ sauce “punch” to it that we all know I love; not too spicy, either.

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For our main courses, Jen was all about their JFAT Combo, which is a pretty great lunch that can easily be split into 2 meals; choosing their corn chowder or chili, tuna melt, American grilled cheese (with avocado and tomato) or the JFAT pastrami reuben and a side green salad and potato chips, Jen opted for the tuna melt and chowder, it looked like the perfect comfort food….

Me, on the other hand, was set to try their Grilled Apricot Chile Glazed Salmon Salad, until I saw their Red Snapper entree with a creole sauce boasting grilled, fresh shrimp on top. It was easily one of the best  sauces I’ve had yet on a seafood platter. My sides were rich, creamy mashed potatoes and green beans. I felt like I had left SoCal for the South! The snapper paired expertly well with my Sauvignon Blanc and I think I have a new favorite white fish.

Red Snapper Entree

Red Snapper Entree

Jen's JFAT Lunch Combo

Jen’s JFAT Lunch Combo

While Jen had heard a must-try is their ‘Bananageddeon’ dessert specialty, with fresh bananas, vanilla bean pastry cream, pecan blondie crumbles, butter pecan ice cream, salty rum-caramel sauce, candied pecans and whipped cream….we knew we’d had enough of a good thing and opted to rain check on that mouth-watering dish!

JImmy’s Famous American Tavern has locations throughout  SoCal ranging from Dana Point, Brea and, of course, my new favorite in Woodland Hills. They are also a great choice for weekend brunch and happy hour! Learn more HERE and hope to see you there soon. xo

(*Disclosure: I was a guest of Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern, thanks to Jennifer. All opinions are my own.)

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Gordon Biersch Brewery in Burbank!

Me with some famous friends

Me with some famous friends

Last Saturday, I was able to check out  Gordon Biersch Brewery in Burbank for a fantastic evening put on by Combat Radio and DJ Ethan Dettenmaier to meet Disney Legend, Bob Gurr and Tinker Bell model herself, Margaret Kelly. It was such an amazing experience to be in the same room as the man who designed Disneyland’s Monorail and The Matterhorn bobsleds, as well as the woman responsible for all of the nuances and mannerisms of our beloved Tinker Bell. You can read all about that over on my friend Kimberly’s blog, Frontierland Station. So fun!

Aside from the legends before me, I also discovered a great new eatery in nearby Burbank, California. Gordon Biersch Brewery is nestled on the corner of San Fernando Road and Olive Avenue right in the heart of Burbank’s chic meets chill boulevard of restaurants, bars, shops and theatres. With an immediate welcoming atmosphere and spacious patio, Gordon Biersch manages to have intimate vibes yet ample enough to host a good size event or soiree.

Hanging with actress, Carolyn Hennesy, who co-hosted the event.

Hanging with actress, Carolyn Hennesy, who co-hosted the event.

I started out with a House Margarita which hit the spot as we awaited our Imagineer legend and Tink, er, Margaret. Their menu is HUGE and, if you’re like us, you might just end up ordering more than one plate. Offering the usual suspects of a brewery (burgers, sandwiches), we saw several plates of their NACHOS go by….and, not your traditional nachos! I am talking a massive plate of Southwest Wonton Nachos (Crisp wonton chips with black beans, cheddar & pepper jack cheeses, pico de gallo, red onions and cilantro, topped with smoked paprika and a drizzle of jalapeño ranch) and their Poke Wonton Nachos (tuna diced and tossed in teriyaki sauce over crisp wonton chips, with grilled pineapple, pickled ginger, green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Drizzled with cucumber wasabi sauce and sriracha cream–whoa.)

Despite the mouth-watering offerings (and several gluten-free dishes, too!) I was pleased they also had several lighter options. While Mike decided on their Pan-Roasted Citrus Chicken. I’d originially had my eye on the Spinach, Fruit and Nut Salad; after consulting with the server, he confirmed my suspicions that it is not too hearty unless you add a protein.  I decided to play copycat and also selected Mike’s order, but, varied it up with the salmon. The meats are roasted and served with lemon balsamic sauce and a choice of two sides. I pretended to be on good behavior and tried the Kale and Quinoa side salad and grilled veggies.

Pan Roasted Citrus Salmon

Pan Roasted Citrus Salmon

Pan Roasted Citrus Chicken.

Pan Roasted Citrus Chicken.

The fish was flaky, but lacked a bit of that citrus flavor I had hoped for. Mike really liked the chicken, as well as the kale and quinoa, which I thought was a little too wet in dressing. With the evening just getting started, we decided on another round of margaritas and an order of their ‘legendary’ garlic french fries, which WERE very delicious….and we just may need the large order next time ;)

I will definitely return to Gordon Biersch as it’s in such a great location, there’s a free parking lot right across the street and the environment was so fun and laid back. Happy hour on the weekday, too! Whether you are having a night with the girls, date night or an evening with the whole family, Gordon Biersch is perfect for everybody. Check out their web-site HERE and make sure to pay some love to Kimberly and my guest post HERE! xo

 

The Take a Hike Deal at Hofsas House Hotel. #TravelTuesday

Photo: Michael Farah

Photo: Michael Farah

Working on Along Comes Mary, I often feel extremely blessed at the opportunities that come my way. Remember when I told you about our overnight at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley? Well, before we arrived there, we had just come from two incredible nights at one of our most favorite hotels, The Hofsas House, in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

The first year when Mike and I were dating, The Hofsas House invited us up to experience all that their adorable hotel, and city, had to offer. It was my first trip away with Mike. Now, as we returned in January, it was our first trip away as an engaged couple!

Something Carmel-by-the-Sea has received many awards and recognitions for, is being the most dog friendly city in the world. It’s no joke. While the entire town loves our canine buddies, The Hofsas House is no exception as they will happily accommodate your bow-wow friends and even offer special pet packages for your stay.

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Speaking of package deals, Carmel-by-the-Sea is currently elebrating their 100th birthday, and The Hofsas House has not only their History Tour to learn all about the city’s history, but just unveiled their latest getaway deal: The Take a Hike Package! With this incredible itinerary, you can eexperience Big Sur hiking trails ranging from tranquil walks along a coastal waterfall to miles-long ascents through the redwoods and into the rugged wilderness or take in magnificent Point Lobos State Park.

After a day of hiking the Big Sur coastline, guests relax in the hotel’s heated swimming pool or European dry saunas. Package includes a $25 gift certificate for Carmel’s 5th Avenue Deli.

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

The Take a Hike package offer is valid from April 1 thru May 31, 2016, with a minimum of a two night stay. Mention HHNature at booking. Offer not valid with any other discounts, promotions or thru a third-party booking agent.

To add on the History Tour for just $25 (per person) more, use promotion code:  HHWALKS when booking!

Get your trip booked HERE and I’ll see you at The Hofsas House Hotel ;)

(*Disclosure: I was invited to stay at The Hofsas House hotel on behalf of this review. All opinions are my own.)

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