Gina Ruiz

Coming Home With a Good Case of #SwitchersRemorse

Disclosure: This is a paid post for Verizon’s #SwitchersRemorse campaign. If you switched away from Verizon and are regretting it, don’t worry. They’re making it easy for customers to come back. For more information, head over to your local Verizon store.

Heading Home

Heading Home

I’ve spent my life going back and forth. Sometimes, to my dismay, one step forward and two steps back. There are no regrets, though, not a one. Each step, backwards or forwards has taught me something, gained me a friend, an experience or a joy. I do however, occasionally get switchers remorse, that feeling you get when you’ve done something and wish you could take it back.

I’ve traveled far from home, always chasing after my dreams. Searching for that indefineable, nameless something that poets seek, that writers seek inspiration from. Sometimes my journeys have a definite purpose or a plan. Some do not. All of them though have had one common thread, that of coming home.

I always come home, no matter how far I roam. L.A. and its seductive quality always call me home. In the streets of Manhattan, I hear its siren’s call and turn my feet towards the west. I book a flight, head for JFK and as soon as I’m over that Pacific ocean, seeing it’s gleam as my plane lowers itself in altitude, there is this sense of coming home, of peace, of incredible rightness. It is my soul place, the home of my birth and that of my heart. I always come back home.

Los Angeles is a gritty city. It’s a land of dreams, some broken more often than not. It’s not a city for the weak. If you are, get strong quick or get gone to your own safe place. It is a place where you may often find yourself stepping on the shards of someone’s broken dreams or pieces of heartbreak all over the dirty streets. L.A. is a city of heartbreak, sometimes my own. Still, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Heartache is something to write about.

My city has a strong diversity. You feel you’ve landed in a world of different worlds. A fanciful and fake land where dogs have spas and cats get their own restaurants. A polyglot’s wet dream of languages. I’ve heard obscure Mayan dialects, Nahuatl, Chinese, Russian, German and French among others. It is truly an international city. Scents, aromas and noise assault you on the streets. You can find food from just about every nation too. We love food here no matter what Michelin thinks.

I love this city I was born in and find more inspiration for my writing here than farther afield. The rivers, the grit, the mountains, the ocean and beaches, the arroyos and little neighborhoods on the east side all find their way into my stories and each has that love I feel for my home woven into their paragraphs.

Sometimes it is a whisper of memory, a smell of something cooking or a song I hear on the street that brings all that love, that sense of longing for home and gives me switcher’s remorse. That’s when the call to home gets stronger and yells at me saying, “What were you thinking, Ginita? Go home!”

Whatever it is is, when it happens it makes me think of home, my crazy beautiful city and reminds me of being a child in the car on that 5 freeway coming home from a long trip. There were still deer on the hills near Griffith Park then and the hills were so green they would make my heart ache in a most poetic way. That feeling of aching love for those green hills made me a fan of that line in Gabriel Garcia Lorca’s poem Romance Sonambula, “verde te quiero verde.” I love that line so much I wrote a story that was inspired by it, called Lorca Green. Now, those once verdant hills are devoid of the curious deer that would come watch the freeway traffic. They are drought-ridden and parched, but they still pull on my heart strings. I know when I see them that I am coming home. I never regret making the old switcharoo back again. This is where I belong.

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POWERADE® Gametime Granola Bars Are My #SidelineHero

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SidelineHero #CollectiveBias

#shop #cbias #powerade

I come from a soccer-loving family. I played, my kids played and now my grandchildren play. Even before they joined an actual team, they were gearing up for it. At the park we’d visit, we’d practice running or the grandkids would hop up and down on rocks, learning to get those knees moving. POWERADE® has always kept us hydrated at the park and now #CollectiveBias has given me the opportunity to show off my favorite #SidelineHero.

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My granddaughter is no longer interested in playing soccer, but she loves the strategy of it and is always coaching her little brother on his moves, his practice, etc. They both take it very seriously and it’s not enough for Aiden to have regular practices, we have to make our trips to the park where they work together and get their grandma involved. Jasmine will sit at a picnic table and map out plays and strategies while Aiden and I work on them, first on paper then laughingly on the grass with a ball. Grandma attempting to play soccer always gets the giggles going with those two.

For these unofficial practices and strategy meetings, we like to come prepared just as we do for the games, but on a smaller scale. We usually head over to Walmart to pick up ingredients for my famous POWERADE® Sideline Granola Bars which are packed with salty-sweet goodness.  We also pick up fresh fruit and veggies to pack as well. I always find the POWERADE® easily in the drinks aisle at my local store.

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I like packing a few bento boxes full of fresh veggies and fruit, fill an insulated bag with an icepack and plenty of POWERADE® in the 12-oz, perfect for kids, size. Added to my ultimate #SidelineHero kit are pre-printed game layout sheets and a pencil for Jasmine to work out her potential plays and strategies. She’s going to make a great coach one day. We also take along my smartphone and sometimes the DSLR camera. Taking video and photos of Aiden’s moves helps tremendously when we’re at home going over things after a game or practice. It gives him a chance to see his footwork and get an idea of what went wrong or right.


Keeping kids eating healthy snacks and staying hydrated is always a challenge. A blessing for me is that they love the Mountain Berry Blast flavor of POWERADE® so much. Aiden loves it because the drink is blue, his favorite color. Since the kids love it so much, it eliminates my challenge in making sure they stay hydrated, especially in our dry, California summers. To encourage them to eat more veggies, I sneak some into my homemade granola bars. Carrot and/or sweet potato works really well and goes with the sweetness, fiber and crunch provided by raisins, coconut, currants, dates and walnuts.

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At the end of our practice sessions, we come away happy knowing we’ve worked extra hard on strategy, practiced moves and gone beyond our regular team practices that Aiden attends with his mom. I feel like a hero because I’ve gotten them to eat healthy snacks and stay hydrated as well as helped them stay fit and athletic. When I go to their games, I’m a #SidelineHero because the other team members clamor for my POWERADE® Sideline Granola Bars, POWERADE® and my bag full of fresh fruit and veggies. You’ll find my recipe and hints for creating the ultimate sideline kit below.


For the POWERADE® Sideline Granola Bars

1 cup raisins
3 tbsp. Flax seeds
1 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup oats
1/4 cup finely chopped dates
1/4 cup Mountain Berry Blast POWERADE®
1/2 cup organic honey
2 tsps. sea salt
2 carrots or one sweet potato, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray or grease it with butter. Since I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I prefer a coconut oil based baking spray.

Add the dry ingredients and carrot or sweet potato to a large bowl and toss together. Pour in the POWERADE® and honey, then, using a spatula or your hands, mix together well until the liquid and honey are well incorporated. Mixture will be wet and sticky.

Spread the granola mixture onto the baking sheet and smooth out with your spatuala so that it is evenly distributed. Bake at 350˚ for 25 minutes and let cool. I allow the granola to cool for one hour before carefully cutting it into bars. I then wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap so that they don’t stick together. Hint: These are also great lunchbox treats. There is no flour, so they are gluten-free.

Substitutions: You can substitute other dried fruit and nuts if desired. I’ve even experimented with sneaking diced zucchini in these and it works very well.

Hints For the Ultimate Sideline Kit:

  • Frozen ice packs lining the sides of your insulated bag help to keep drinks cold and snacks crispy fresh.
  • I use a Bento box to line up veggies and fruit. These also fit nicely into all sizes of insulated bags or backpacks, making it easier to carry, rather than lugging a bulky cooler across a huge park.
  • Nice thick hand towels come in handy for sweaty kids.
  • A gallon-sized zip closing plastic bag will hold 8 1/2 by 11 printed play sheets, keeping them safe from the condensation from the chilly POWERADE®, icepacks and fruit.
    Always bring extra POWERADE® and granola bars to share.

What are your favorite sideline snacks or tips for healthy snacking? How do you stay hydrated? I’d love to know your tips and tricks to being a #SidelineHero

No matter who you are, we all started from the same place – just a kid from somewhere. POWERADE® believes that we all have the ability to power through and reach our athletic potential. POWERADE® is teaming up with the Boys and Girls Club, providing the belief, emotional and physical support, and hydration young athletes need to perform.

Look for a coupon on the 12-pack 12 oz POWERADE® packages and you can get $1 off Walmart fresh produce when you buy two 12-pack 12 oz POWERADE®. Hurry this deal is only available while supplies lasts!

Follow POWERADE® on social media to find out more!

Twitter: @Powerade

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Tortillas & Salt – #MyHeroIs

My Grandparents in the 1940s

My Grandparents in the 1940s

Disclosure: I am a member of the OM Media Network I receive products and occasionally promotional fees. I do not promise positive reviews and all opinions are my own.

There are heroes everywhere if you just look around you.


Sometimes it can be simple. Everyday heroism takes place in kitchens across America as parents sacrifice in order to put food on the table for their kids.


My mother once told me that she remembered how little food they had to eat growing up and how my Grandma Lupe would feed my grandfather and the kids the actual food and sneak off to a corner in the kitchen to eat just a rolled up tortilla with salt. She did without so that her hard-working husband could continue to work and so her small children would grow strong and healthy.


My memories of her were different. She was the warm and giving abuela who always had a houseful of food. Back then, I didn’t register that those full pantries and freezers might have been a reaction to those times when there wasn’t any food to be had. I’ve always associated her with love and plenty. My mother saw her differently. She remembered those tortillas with nothing in them but salt.


When I think of that, it hurts, deep in my throat, makes me tear up to think of how many times she hid in a corner thinking no one would see her doing without. I’m here because she did that. My mother wouldn’t have grown up, married, had me if not for the loving care of my grandmother and the sacrifices she made. To me, that is everyday heroism.

NBCUniversal and WWE unveiled a new campaign, “For The Hero In All of Us,” that will air across NBCUniversal’s expansive network of two broadcast networks, 17 cable channels and more than 50 digital properties in addition to all of WWE’s platforms. In conjunction, NBCUniversal and WWE will engage consumers through #MyHeroIs inviting fans to name their favorite WWE Superstars and share personal and inspirational stories of heroism. I love this because it gives people a chance to tell their stories of everyday heroism, stories like that of my Grandma Lupe. Real heroes are all around us if we only just look

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Traditional Flavors with La Morena

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #VivalaMorena #CollectiveBias
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Savory Capirotadas with La Morena Sliced Jalapeños


On this blog, I talk a lot about life with my grandparents. They were the most loving people in my life and perhaps that is why their memory stays strong no matter how many years have passed since they left this world. They were great respecters of tradition – old and new. Their Mexican culture was incredibly important to them, as deeply felt as was their pride in being American. Before the word balance became a buzzword, their life embodied it. Life with them was a perfect balance of two cultures, the old and the new.  My grandmother was a master at blending traditional flavors with new ones.

Food was important, as it was central to our traditions. The big dining table on holidays was laid out with white linen, carefully embroidered by my grandmother. The dishes were from Gladding-McBean/Franciscanware (my grandfather had worked for them in Glendale for years). The food was a delicious blend of old Mexican recipes and newer American ones. My grandmother was a great fan of Graham Kerr, Julia Child and Jacques Pepin and sometimes their recipes graced our holiday table. Like many American housewives of the ‘40s and ’50’s, my grandmother carefully clipped recipes from the newspaper or magazines. I learned from her that food has no borders. Early on I was taught to appreciate a wide range of flavors and techniques. Ingredients for her Mexican dishes came from the local Mexican market or farther afield – my grandfather would go to the Grand Central Market in Downtown L.A. Now, Mexican ingredients are easier to find. I just walk two blocks to my local Superior Market which even has both a panaderia and a tortilleria.

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Finding La Morena products easily in my local market


I loved the holidays meals especially, both the commercial and religious ones. My grandmother was always very good about taking the time to explain to me the significance for certain dishes and why we ate them on certain holidays. For certain religious holidays, we abstained from meat – eating only fish, which my grandfather loathed. Because of his absolute aversion to fish, my grandmother had learned to be creative on those holidays, creating vegan and vegetarian dishes for my grandfather before we even knew what those words meant. He happily gobbled up her creations, relieved he wouldn’t have to eat the dreaded pescado (fish) and still be obedient to the dictates of his faith. That taught me something too – a cook is flexible. You learn to adapt quickly and create new things that can become family favorites. That lesson has served me well both in the kitchen as well as the office and my personal life. It’s relatively easy for me to make quick changes, adapt to situations and come up with new solutions.

I was thinking about that today. I don’t celebrate the religious holidays my grandparents did. I don’t often make huge family dinners these days, but I often remember the recipes my grandmother made and how she often created pure magic in her kitchen. Those memories inspire me to create something new that would embody those traditional flavors I grew up with.

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Smokey La Morena Chipotle & Fish Enchiladas

I thought about the traditional enchiladas I grew up eating. My grandmother made her own enchilada sauce and often played with fillings. A few years ago I was talking to my mother’s cousins and they asked me if I remembered the recipe for my grandmother’s enchiladas with peas and carrots. I remembered those succulent enchiladas. It was one of her inventions and it was so good that my relatives remembered it with longing 30 years after her death. I wanted to create something just as succulent and I hope I have succeeded. I love the smokiness and authenticity of La Morena’s chipotles and thought it would make a great enchilada sauce, but I wanted to tone down the heat a bit for something with just a hint of spice and plenty of smoke and tang. I decided to try to make a fish puree or mousse with buttermilk, then fill flour tortillas with that puree and coat them with a sauce made from chipotles and buttermilk. But what to serve with it?

La Morena products are economical too

La Morena products are economical too

In keeping with family tradition and those vegetarian dishes my grandfather preferred to fish, I thought about capirotada. Capirotada is a Mexican sweet bread pudding made with bananas, peanuts, cheese, stale bread and piloncillo. I adore it and it was one of my grandfather’s favorite things as well as being a very traditional dish for this time of year. I decided to try to make a savory bread pudding that would make a great vegetarian side dish. Using La Morena’s sliced jalapeños, I kept the tastes and traditional flavors of Mexico while creating something completely (at least I think so) new. Stale bread, red onion, Mexican squash, spinach, Oaxacan cheese, spices and thinly sliced slivers of jalapeños en escabeche made a bread pudding that is savory, cheesy, tangy and spicy – the perfect compliment to my smoky fish enchiladas.

La Morena is having a giveaway for five $200.00 gift cards and I would love for one of my readers to be one of the winners.  I would also love you to share with me your own recipes and holiday traditions. The giveaway link is after the recipes below.

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Preparing a savory & spicy bread pudding


Savory Vegetarian Capirotada

  • Half a loaf of French or Italian bread, torn into pieces
  • Fresh thyme (about two tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup raw spinach
  • 1 small Mexican squash, cut into cubes
  • Three large eggs
  • 3/4 c. Buttermilk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. butter (for sautéing the spinach and squash in)
  • La Morena sliced jalapeños en escabeche diced (about 2 tablespoons from the 7 oz. can)
  • 1/4 c. Oaxaca cheese, cut into small cubes
  • Butter for greasing ramekins
  • La Morena jalapeños en escabeche slices for garnish

Grease four small ramekins generously with butter.

Dry out the torn bread on a baking sheet in a low temperature oven for about 10-15 minutes. Set aside. When cool, place in a large mixing bowl.

Dice the squash and sautee in the butter with the spinach and red onion until translucent. Set aside until cool.

Dice the jalapeños and some of the carrots from the can of La Morena and toss them into the dry bread pieces.

Add the bits of cheese and the cooled vegetables. Add 1 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of the jalapeño liquid.

Toss as you would a salad so that it is all well mixed.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs and buttermilk together. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, then pour the egg mixture into the bread. Mix well, but gently so the bread doesn’t break.

Scoop into butter-greased ramekins. Heap the bread mixture in, you want them to be slightly overfull. Garnish the top with a slice of jalapeño. Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet (it will catch any spillover) and bake at 350 degrees for a half hour or until a knife comes out cleanly. Let rest about five minutes, then, run a knife around the sides and turn out onto serving plate. You can also just serve them right in the ramekins if so desired.

Note: You can substitute any vegetable. I have made these with plantain, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and other vegetables. The key is the delicious tangy/spicy flavor the La Morena jalapeños impart to the dish.

Fish Enchiladas with Chipotle-Buttermilk Sauce

For the filling:

  • 1 pound of firm white fish, cleaned and cubed. (I used pike which is a freshwater white fish, but any firm fleshed white fish will do).
  • 1 tablespoon diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 c. Chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 c. Buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Ground pepper

In a food processor, pulse the fish, onion, thyme, cilantro, salt and pepper until fish is finely minced. Add buttermilk and pulse till smooth. Fish should be like a this paste. Scoop into a small bowl and set aside.

For the sauce:

  • 1 c. Buttermilk
  • 2-3 La Morena chipotles, plus two tablespoons of the liquid
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 c. Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. red onion, finely diced
  • In a blender, puree the chipotles, buttermilk, onion and herbs. Set aside.

In a non-stick frying pan, brown the flour, till golden brown.

Slowly whisk in the chipotle liquid, whisking till there are no lumps. The sauce will be golden, but turns redder (and spicier) with  more chipotles added.

Heat on low until sauce thickens but does not break. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sauce should be tangy, smokey and spicy. You can add more chipotles depending on how spicy you like it.

Remove from heat and let cool.

To Assemble:

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • Flour tortillas
  • Baking dish
  • Diced red onion, thyme and cilantro

In a frying pan heat the olive oil on medium. Slide in flour tortillas and fry until firm but not crispy.

Remove tortillas from oil onto a plate.

When tortillas are cool, you can begin to assemble.

One at a time, dip a flour tortilla into the chipotle-buttermilk sauce, then lay it in a baking dish. Scoop in the fish mixture and roll. Continue until all the fish is gone. You should get about 6-8 enchiladas (depending on how big your tortillas are). *Note: these are very filling and rich.

Spoon more sauce over the assembled enchiladas and top with a little of the herbs and red onion that you used in the filling. Bake in a 350 degree oven on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Drizzle alternately with sauce and buttermilk. Serve.

I like to serve these over a bed of watercress with more sauce poured over.
La Morena Lent Giveaway

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So You Wanna Be a Chingona?

Disclosure: I am a member of the #WWEMoms.  The opinions expressed here are my own, as is the cursing and the Spanglish. I am, as always myself.#WWEMoms

If you grew up Chicana in L.A., you wanted to grow up to be a full-on chingona. Chingona means a bad ass but it’s a little stronger than that. Actually, it’s not a very nice word and “nice girls” don’t say it. This one does…all the time. For me, it’s been my mantra. I am a chingona. Yo soy chingona.

Why? Because I’ve had to be. I am a stone-cold pocha. A pocha or pocho is a Mexican-American (for giggles, I’ve attached the Wiki description on the word which may or may not be accurate, but you all believe wiki, que no?). For me, it went even deeper. I am super-pocha because my father wasn’t Mexican. Hell, my maiden name is Gleason. Like American to the core with ancestors that landed in Massachusetts sometime in 1638 pinche gringo. Try growing up in a Mexican barrio in East L.A. in the 1960s with a name like Gleason, light skin, hair that turns red in the sun and freckles. You just gotta be a chingona right out of the gate.

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Family Base to the Rescue

Disclosure: I am a member of the Verizon Wireless Lifestyle Program which gives me free access to mobile technology and other benefits.  The opinions expressed here are my own, as is the cursing and the Spanglish.  I am, as always myself. #VZWBuzz

It happened quickly and I was completely unprepared. Potential disaster was glaring me in the face and I was almost overwhelmed with the shock of it.

This is a techy kind of household. I always seem to have a new gadget or a phone to test laying around the house in addition to the three types of Kindle devices, desktop computer, laptop and Wii. So naturally the grandkids gravitate to these devices and lust quite openly for their own phones and gadgets, but the adults in the family think they are too young to have their own phones.

As a consolation prize, I’d given my granddaughter Jasmine an inactive phone of mine without the sim card. Just something she could hold onto and perhaps play games on but nothing more. The Kindles in the house have special accounts for both Jasmine and Aiden with parental controls, time limits etc. I didn’t think to do anything to this phone I’d given her though. I mean, it didn’t have a sim card and all that was active on it were the games I’d left installed.

I didn’t count on how smart Jasmine is and how much tech knowledge she’d absorbed in visiting me and listening to me talk tech to people. Her mother never thought to have a discussion with her about internet safety because she thought Jasmine, at eleven years old was just a baby. Moreover, their home computers and equipment have the same parental controls on them that I have active here on my devices that they use.


She’s not a baby, nor even a little girl that knows nothing about how things work. She’s an 11-year old, pretty tech-savvy young lady with equally knowledgeable friends at school.

Over the New Year’s holiday I had the grandchildren over for four days. I was still recovering from a pretty nasty bout with the flu so I’d planned a very subdued and relaxed time with them. I ordered all eight of the Harry Potter movies and set up a four-day marathon, I pre-made simple food and plenty of it so they could help themselves. I also loaded up on the hot chocolate fixings. We settled in for four days of basically burrowing in.

Over the course of the four days I noticed that Jasmine barely put down that old phone which struck me as suspicious, especially considering we have newer and more interesting devices laying around the apartment. My old and somewhat rusty form disuse ‘I’m the mom of four teenagers’ antenna started quivering as they hadn’t done since my kids were in their teens. Those instincts have never served me wrong so I started watching her. It looked like she was occasionally smiling at her phone… hmm… it looked like she was TEXTING.

At one point, she got up to help her little brother with something and I swooped in on the phone she’d left carefully tucked in between the couch cushions. To my horror, I found she had a KIK account, an Instagram account, a Snapchat account and was using my wireless internet here at the house to use that phone with no sim card! Uh huh. Upon further Grammy spying, I discovered she’d saved my internet settings onto her phone and had done the same with her home internet. I was simultaneously impressed with her resourcefulness and horrified that she had the accounts and was actively using them.

The stricken look on her face when she realized I had her phone let me know she knew she was busted. I fought to keep calm. “Jasmine, you have Instagram?” I asked. “Has your mother given you permission and has she discussed internet safety with you?”

“No. I just did it.”

“Well there are a lot of scary people out there so we’re going to have to discuss safety and rules.”

“Okay Grammy.”

I left it at that and handed her back her phone. I then hopped onto my own phone and started rapid-fire texting her mother. Basically, all the freaking out I had held in with Jasmine, I let loose on her mom. That night, when Jasmine was sleeping, I got on text with her mom and we went through her phone, messages, Instagram accounts, etc to find out what was going on. There was nothing untoward, just the innocent little notes about boys, teachers, television programs and school. Still…it scared the living crap out of us.

Then I remembered Verizon’s Family Base and Family Locator feature from the summit I’d attended in San Francisco back in May. I hopped over the the Verizon site, looked it up and showed my daughter in law. After some days of discussion, we decided that we’d get Jasmine an early birthday present…a pretty pink iPhone with Family Base and Family Locator installed. I have the parent app installed on my phone. We’ve decided to trust her with a phone now that we’ve both laid down the rules and had open discussions with her about internet safety. We’re going to trust her with a phone, but we’ll be monitoring her activity with Family Base. I can set time limits, block unapproved friends, block certain apps. The Family Locator feature isn’t really necessary right now as she’s never on her own and won’t be for a long while yet. Still, we thought it a good idea to have it just in case. If something happens, we’re going to know where she is.

I’m still kind of blown away that my little princess figured out how to have an active social media life with friends on a supposedly non-working phone. I’ll be a lot more vigilant in the future. So will her mother. We both were impressed with the way she owned up to what she’d done, how open she was in talking to us and showing us her accounts and messages and that is what got us finally to decide that she was in fact ready to have an active phone. At least this one we can control.

Check those dead devices around your home. If your kids know your internet password, chances are they’ve figure out how to make an old dead phone work for chatting with their friends.

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The Writing Life Made Easier with Droid Turbo

Disclosure: I am a member of the Verizon Wireless Lifestyle Program which gives me free access to mobile technology and other benefits.  The opinions expressed here are my own, as is the cursing and the Spanglish.  I am, as always myself. #VZWBuzz



When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen. But if you have not a pen, I suppose you must scratch any way you can. ~Samuel Lover, Handy Andy, 1842

I don’t remember when I first knew that I would be a writer, but it seems I was born with a pencil in my hand. My father once told me that I was about two and scribbling on the floor with a pencil. He said that he’d asked me what I was doing and I lisped, “telling stories.”

It’s hard being a writer though when one needs to support oneself and the writing. I have a lot of juggling to do, have become quite expert at it over the years. I have always worked full-time in demanding jobs. From working at Disney, to ABC Broadcasting, then onto being the GM of a trade magazine, my jobs amounted to long, stressful but rewarding hours. I’d come home, cook for and feed four hungry kids, clean the house, organize for the next day, sneak in a bath and some wine and every night, no matter how beat I was, I would write. In those days, it was a typewriter and/or ink-stained hands and smudged notebooks (I’m a leftie). Nowadays, it’s vastly different.

I still work a full-time job, I commute home for over an hour. I do freelance gigs at home. I write, on a laptop now (no more smudges!) but I write whenever I get a chance. I still come home and cook for the blog, myself, and sometimes for friends and grandchildren. I still sink into that welcoming bathtub, and I still write late into each night. There are however many more perks and a lot of things that make my busy writer’s life an easier one. Droid Turbo is my best friend and writing buddy these days.

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Sugar Cookie Ornaments & the Scents of Christmas Past

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

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Easy to find these great scents

It’s the holiday season and we’re excited in my home. Southern California won’t have a white Christmas, but the spirit of the holidays is here. To get in the mood, we light Glade® Winter Collection scented candles. I was lucky enough to find the Glade® Winter Collection at our local Ralph’s Grocery in Glendale. The display was set up just as we walked in, making it hard to miss amidst the madness of holiday shopping. You can save on Glade®  products with coupons. Find coupons for Glade®  on 12/7/14 in most Sunday newspapers in the coupon section, you can also find digital coupons for Glade® on

Frosted Cookie Party™ is one candle we light when we’re prepping our decorations for our annual tree-decorating party. We make tons of sugar cookies, dust off the boxes of ornaments and invite friends over to help decorate the tree. Before they are done, the candle gets us in the mood and already smelling those delicious cookies. We even turn some cookies into ornaments (I’ll show you how below).

Nothing says holidays to me like the scents of sugar cookies, pine and apple empanadas. My Grandma Lupe would always make apple empanadas at this time of year. On cold mornings waiting for the school bus, I always had a warm empanada. I’d savor each tiny bite of warmth and spice and by the time the bus came, there were only crumbs and a memory of cinnamon. My grandmother baked with so much love that it kept me warm all the way to school. The Apple Cinnamon Cheer™ scent makes me thinking longingly of those empanadas and brings back memories of my youth.

When I was off school, I’d wake up early and pad across creaky, cold floors of the old house to the warmth of the kitchen. There I would find her at her stove, apron tied firmly around her waist. Breakfast would magically appear on a plate before me and after I’d eaten, we’d clean up and start peeling apples. She was a wonder to watch. Bowls would appear, butter, eggs, sugar…magically things would start to take shape. As soon as the spicy scent started to drift through the house my grandfather would appear…he loved apple empanadas so much. I loved serving him those first ones right out of the oven that were bubbling hot. He’d take a bite and sigh happily.  To me, apple empanadas meant Thanksgiving, Christmas and time well spent with my grandparents.

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Pasta, Animated via Droid

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Disclosure: I am a member of the Verizon Wireless Lifestyle Program which gives me free access to mobile technology and other benefits.  The opinions expressed here are my own, as is the cursing and the Spanglish. I am, as always myself. #VZWBuzz

I am amazed at the functionality of phones now. Seriously.

Tomorrow I turn 53 years old (holy crap!) and I grew up with rotary phones, graduated to push buttons, walked around with a BIG ASS mobile phone looking like a complete dork, stumbled into those original heavy-duty Blackberry’s and Palm Pilots. The changes, strides and advances in our now so necessary devices boggle my mind.


Currently, I’m using the Motorola Droid Turbo and it’s AMAZING. The voice functions kick some serious butt and I have a lot of fun with that. It’s especially nice to give it voice commands to search for something I am researching while still madly typing on the laptop to look something up. Fabulous, right?

Google while I’m writing/working on my novel. I can immediately call up information rather than stopping myScreen Shot 2014-11-30 at 7.30.23 PM

The coolest feature of all though to me is the Droid’s completely seamless integration with Google. This Thanksgiving I took so many pictures of the grandkids cooking and Gianfranco Minuz making pasta. Thanks to the Droid’s incredible resolution and it’s integration with Google, not only can I immediately post my photos (Google auto-enhances them!), but darned if it didn’t animate them all well. If you take a bunch of pictures in sequence Google does that. Taking pictures in sequence with the Droid is a snap (no pun intended). You just hold your finger in place while using the camera and it will rapid-fire shoot one shot after another till you move your finger. SWEET!

Google Auto-Awesome and the rapid sequence shots of the Droid Turbo are a match made in heave.

Google Auto-Awesome and the rapid sequence shots of the Droid Turbo are a match made in heaven.

I was just going through my photos on Google and again, thanks to that very cool integration, I can immediately share with my social networks and Google +.  I found, some very cool animations that Google did automatically from the photos my Droid took, of Gianfranco Minuz making pasta for his wondrous Pumpkin Stuffed Capelletti. Here I was just thinking I was only taking pictures, but instead got an almost video-like animation of his process. How friggin cool is that? I’m in love. For a woman that used to be the General Manager of an animation and visual effects magazine, this function is beyond the coolest.

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My Google Notifications of things that were done automatically


I also took real video (this one is unprocessed and unedited) with the Droid.

Tomorrow, my birthday, I’ll be heading out to see Carlos Santana and Cheech Marin at The Orpheum. I’ll be taking my trusty Droid Turbo, holding my finger down on that camera and not having to worry about missing something because I’m too busy fiddling with my phone and camera.

It’s going to be amazing…I can’t wait to find out what the next 53 years of technology brings.

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Bordeaux Wines for the Holidays

I’m working on my holiday menus and checking out some wine from Bordeaux

What are you drinking for the holidays?

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