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Kitchen Sink


My Netflix Find of the Month: Camp Takota

December 30th, 2014

(Photo from

Ever since I fell in love with My Drunk Kitchen, I’ve kept semi-tabs on the YouTube series creator, Hannah Hart’s, whereabouts. Last year sometime, I heard she’d signed to appear in an independent film with other YouTube personalities, including Grace Helbig, and Mamrie Hart, and I promptly Googled all I could about the film.


Turned out the movie was a comedy written by Mamrie Hart and directed by The Brothers Riedell, who are also popular on YouTube ( as well as writers/directors in their own right) (as well as hot). Named Camp Takota, the movie would be distributed through digital channels and was available for pre-order, a move I didn’t make at the time because all the money was out of all my pockets.


Still, the idea of a feature-length comedy written and starring by people who’d made their reputations online, intrigued me. Although I’ve been a blogger since the dawn of the new millennium, the fame and fortune gained by digital personalities turns me on. There’s a ton of talent out there that’d never otherwise be seen and appreciated through traditional avenues, and I’m glad I have the chance to discover these people on my own terms, and not remain subject to who publicists and movie studios deem watchable. Because Kim Kardashian.


Yet Camp Takota eluded me. After my initial spurt of Googling the hell out of it, I forgot it ever existed for almost a year. Until yesterday, when I noticed that Netflix now streamed it and the movie was available for my eyeballs to watch.


So I did what any one in my position would do. I withheld love, affection, and lunch from my kids for two full hours as I watched Camp Takota in bed with a full bag of Veggie Sticks and a spoon (for the full pint of ice cream).


Telling the story of a down and out young woman (Grace Helbig) who’s lost her job and her fiancee and hightails it to her childhood summer camp to work and escape, Camp Takota is yes, predictable, although in the best way possible. When you know what to expect from a movie, especially a comedy, it’s somehow comforting and satisfying, because the girl will get the boy and the cheating fiancee will be punished, and the camp will be saved from the money grubbers.


The YouTubers’ performances turned out well, which admittedly was semi-surprising because the transition from online personality to film actor is a leap, but they all jumped and made it to the other side, even if a leg dangled off the cliff here and there.


I’ve already watched certain parts two or three times because Camp Takota has that you’ll-repeat-some-of-its-lines-into-old-age quality held by all the John Hughes movies. It’s a cute, fun romp in the hay with a formulaic but sweet premise that’s totally watchable.


I’m recommending Camp Takota for immediate Netflix streaming, not just because I’m a blogger, but because we all need to to lie in bed with Veggie Sticks and ice cream pints and enjoy adorable comedies from time to time. Life is hard. Let’s Takota it.



 P.S. I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team, but Netflix doesn’t tell me what to watch ever. Facebook does.



Top 5 Netflix Titles To Give Thanks For This Month

November 21st, 2014

I’m a latecomer to Netflix. I’ve had it barely a year and there’s so much on there! Why didn’t you people tell me about this?



(I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team)



Meanwhile, I’m all about finding the new stuff, but I also dig finding some of the old stuff that I’d forgotten I loved. When’s Twin Peaks getting up there? (“Up there” means “Netflix.” Apparently I talk like the old folks do about technology.) So below, enjoy my ad hoc, Thanksgiving-themed Netflix list of shows/movies I’m into this month. But you’re probably already seen them all. Because you’ve had Netflix for 10 years.



1) Cropsey: I’m a spooky movie lover, and while I know that Halloween was last month, I can’t help but share this Netflix pick with you in November. Focusing on an East Coast urban legend about a child killer named Cropsey, the documentary highlights the culture around an abandoned State Island sanitarium on whose surrounding grounds inmates and employees still lurk in tunnels and woods. The story is true and the mood and ambiance evoked by the sanitarium ruins rivals any thriller out there today. Once the story focuses on a man convicted of the crimes on which the legend is based, things get interesting as the filmmakers delve into the likelihood that he abducted and murdered the children who went missing around the sanitarium. This documentary remains one of my favorites showing on Netflix this year.



2) Hours: My husband spent a good many minutes scanning Netflix titles for a movie appropriate yet absorbing enough to watch with our daughters, ages 8 and 10. He settled on Hours starring the late Paul Walker about a man whose wife dies in childbirth during Hurricane Katrina, leaving him the sole protector of his daughter surviving on a respirator. Once the hospital is evacuated and the power goes out, dad and baby are left on their own as the storm rages outside.



I’m not exactly sure what possessed my husband to choose this particular film as a “family movie,” but my girls loved it and it certainly sparked a lot of good conversation about the love a parent has for his children. There are some anxiety-producing scenes when criminals break into the hospital, but it all stays PG13.



3) The entire 10 seasons of Friends: I don’t know about you, but if I catch a glimpse of a “Friends” rerun playing on cable, I’m in for the duration. If it’s a marathon, I’m totally screwed. I first fell in love with this series in 1994 and I adore its comedy to this day. There is no better binge watching when you need a pick-me-up. All I have to do is see “The One With…” episode title and I’m a goner.

Netflix features the complete series starting January 1, and if you’re a Friends lover, start watching in 2015 and say goodbye to the next 300 hours of your life. It’s great post-New-Year’s-Eve viewing! Don’t even get up off the couch, just sit there and reminisce about the Friends clan and how Monica afforded that NYC apartment.



4) The X-Files: So we’re established that I like paranormal, scary stuff, right? It’s no surprise then that I’m giving thanks for the X-Files showing on Netflix this month. Normally, I’d troll the Chiller channel or catch an errant X-Files episode playing after 11PM at night. But now I have nine entire seasons to work my way through at all hours. There’s nothing better for this unexplained mysteries lover.



5) Wayne’s World: This movie consistently makes me laugh and brings me back to the early ‘90s. Given that I’m rapidly approaching middle age, both are good things. Also, I went to college in Mil-walk-kay. I think I want to share this one with my kids, but I’ll have to watch it again one last time to ensure monkeys aren’t actually flying out of butts.



What are you watching on Netflix this month? I’m always looking for something good.

Favorite Beauty Finds

October 29th, 2014

I don’t know how many times I’ve sat in groups of women talking about the products they use on their hair, faces, and bodies. All I can tell you is that it’s a lot of many times. One of my favorite things is to learn about the cleaners, mascaras, lip glosses, and conditioners other people count as their holy grails, and if there were a beauty retreat where all I do is sit there and listen (and sample), I’d be all in with rapt ears and a ready face for the product slathering.


As it happens, every now and then, I hit upon my own beauty must-haves and consider it my moral girl-code duty to share, which I’m doing right here, right now.


So…below are the products I’m digging hard core and why. Maybe they will help your hair, face, and body as they’ve helped mine:



Skin Authority Brighten & Firm DUO


They had me at “firm.” Fact is, I own most Skin Authority products and haven’t looked back for the past year-and-a-half I’ve been using them. Normally, I bounce around from skincare line to skincare line because my face is a picky disaster and something always makes me break out, somewhere. But back in July 2013, I began using Skin Authority’s everything and experienced zero breakouts and 100% happy epidermal layers, so have mirthfully reordered its products ever since.


The Brighten & Firm DUO is especially wonderful because it comes with the Resurfacing Accelerator (if anyone needs her face resurfaced, it’s me) that acts like a daily peel to get rid of old skin cells and bring out new ones. I use this nearly every night and my skin feels new(ish) in the morning. It also feels firm. I love the word “firm.” And while I despise the word “moist,” I must say the Resurfacing Accelerator is a good moistener (is it possible to make the word “moist” any more gross? Unless it’s referring to your face?).


Here’s where things get even better: after resurfacing, I use the Tri-Power Peptide Hydrator to plump up the volume. Adding the two products together supercharges the awesome-skin results, which is possibly why Skin Authority named them the “Brighten & Firm DUO (I get it now!). My good friend even asked me the other day where my crow’s feet went, and that’s a question I don’t mind answering. Of course, I have no answer other than “Skin Authority must have a place it keeps people’s old skin? Maybe like a face dump?” I assume the company is sustainable that way. All those ancient skin flakes need to go somewhere.


Meanwhile, word to the wise, unmoist ones: I usually get my Skin Authority products on the website and they’re not cheap, even if they last forever. BUT, on October 30 at 5PM (PST), Skin Authority’s founder will be on HSN’s Beauty Report selling the Brighten & Firm DUO for $79 (both products together normally cost $138).


I’m telling you, if you’re into firm, lifted, moist (ew) skin, you might want to check these products out STAT.



Hourglass No. 28 Lip Oil


I read about this product on another beauty site about a year ago, and stuck its specs in the back of my head for a rainy day. Apparently the emollient properties of the lip treatment ranked as epic and far surpassed any other lame product I might have tried. Considering that up until last week, I’d been using a chapstick I received at BlogHer in 2010, I figured now was the time to go big. And big it was, because this treatment is $42, which is no small potatoes for someone who’s been using a free chapstick for four years.


Unfortunately, the Hourglass lip oil shocked and awed my lips and I’ll find every other treatment completely subpar for the rest of my penniless life.


The lip oil is a little thick, but not tacky and manages to velvetize my lipstick so my lip lines don’t look like Magda’s from “There’s Something About Mary.”


I wear it alone most days, and it has the consistency of a clear lip gloss that jazzes my lips up a bit, and when I wear color on my lips, I put the oil on underneath and over the lipstick.


It’s a winner, dammit.



Urban Decay Naked2 Basics


I know. Most of America and Europe has this already. I’m not a trend setter, just a girl trying to make it through Sephora without pawning my wedding ring to afford all the blings. I usually don’t wear eyeshadow because I feel like it settles in my lid lines a la Magda, so I’ve often hesitated before buying palettes. But yes, most of America and Europe, you were onto something, because the Naked No. 2 eyeshadows glide over my lids eradicating all sense of Magdaness (wear an eyeshadow primer to really see awesome lid action). I love the neutral colors that increase in intensity, and am really into the smoky color situated at the end of the palette for eye drama on those days I wear something other than my husband’s sweat socks.


There’s a bunch of Naked palettes available in varying color combinations, but No. 2 is the most user-friendly for my needs, and it was less than the lip oil ($29).


So there are my new things! What are you using? I need to know! No seriously, I need to know. I have FOMOOBP.


Disclosure: Skin Authority provided me with a Brighten & Firm DUO to replace my dwindling Resurfacing Accelerator and Tri-Power Peptide Hydrator , but I buy all my other Skin Authority products. Everything else was purchased by me and is not sponsored in the least little bit, nor are there affiliate links included here. Thank you kindly.


You Know You’re a San Diego Gal When…

October 14th, 2014


(Pretty much when I first moved to San Diego. So take the below list with a big crimping iron, which translates to “grain of salt” in San Diegoish.)


You’re a San Diego gal when:


  • Christmas beach day!
  • Carne asada French fries!
  • Don’t you dare make fun of In n’ Out.
  • Silk Stalkings!
  • You have tank tops in colors not even invented yet.
  • There’s an entire wing in your closet for flip flops.
  • You wait all fall to wear boots, then put on every pair you own during the boot window of 9AM, November 21 to 2PM, November 21. Central Standard time.
  • Your neighbor works for Qualcomm, your husband works for Qualcomm, you used to work at Qualcomm. 
  • There’s not a name for how blonde you want your hair to be.
  • You remember when Fashion Valley only had a Nordstrom’s.
  • You used to party in Tijuana, but wouldn’t be caught dead now on Revoluccion. Or you would, and that’s why you don’t go. 
  • You lived in OB at least once.
  • You go black widow hunting.
  • You kinda had a crush on King Stahlman.
  • You still call it Der Wienerschnitzel.


There’s plenty more, I know. I’m not an indigenous San Diego gal, but I’ve been here so long, I forgot all about what it’s like to be a Chicago gal. Except summer street festivals. And fireflies. And cicada invasions. Plus, Ferris Bueller. And rooftop parties. Also, the Cubs!


I should write a Chicago version! Because Wiener Circle.


PROMPTuesday #236: Back to Spooky

October 7th, 2014


It’s my favorite time of year: spooky movie season. I troll the Lifetime network and the Chiller channel obsessively from October 1 through Halloween, hoping to happen upon a cheesy, ghosty, scary show I can tuck into with full abandon.


Even better is when I’m in bed, the lights are off, and everyone is asleep. Spooky goodness galore!


As I do every year with the October PROMPTuesday I’m asking for a scary story. This can be something that really happened (I love those!) or a tale you make up in your head. I’m posting a horrible thing I wrote many years ago, but it fits the theme: cheesy. (Was that the theme?)


Nevertheless, keep in mind that PROMPTuesday is all about just writing something off the top of your head to get the juices going. It doesn’t have to be edited, or finessed or polished. Raw is best. Pick at the raw nuggets later to extract the good stuff, but for now, there is no pressure to write a masterpiece.




Add your post/comment/prompt answer below in the comments or write a post of your own and include the link for us to read!


To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.


Or, catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.


So: what scary thing has happened to you?



Susannah heard the sound after it was gone. What it was, she couldn’t say. But her subconscious had registered it and woke her with a jolt.

Her eyelashes snapped against her lids as she lay, prone, listening. Her heart beat that deep, ragged, thumping way it does when you think your plane is going to crash.

But she wasn’t in the air, she was in some guy’s bed, wondering where the hell he was, as her peripheral vision caught the emptiness beside her.

Some guy…Ron? That was it. Out with friends for happy hour, she’d ended up with Ron after a heartfelt discussion of life, love, and all that other stuff you talk about three martinis later.

She knew she shouldn’t have followed him to his place. She was, after all, in the middle of a three-year relationship, but she allowed herself this irrational act for no good reason whatsoever.

She kept her eyes on the ceiling. A sound loud enough to wake her up, the stranger beside her gone, a complete eerie silence…this wasn’t good. The air felt heavy, and pawed at her. In her deepest self, she knew something was very wrong (the plane was losing altitude…).

But no more noises…just movement. A swath of shadow cut across a small corner of the ceiling dimly lit by the glow of a nightlight. Susannah followed the circle of light down to a dresser on the right side of the bed.

Ron sat crouched on top of the dresser.

His face was expressionless as he threw a book at the nightlight, knocking it out of the wall, plunging the room in darkness.

She lay there, feeling like she would hit bottom any minute, and wanting to, because anything was better then waiting in the dark for something to find you. She strained to hear anything, some sound that would give away his next movement, but Susannah couldn’t hear a thing but the rumbling echo of her own heartbeat.

Should she roll over the side of the bed and get on the floor? Maybe under the bed? What then?

Any movement would creak the bed frame or rustle the sheets. She couldn’t change her position without her pursuer knowing about it. But, dammit, she couldn’t stay there.

She had to do something now. Her mind clung to option after option, but nothing stuck and Susannah ended up immobilized. Suddenly, a dot of light flickered. Then, another, and another, randomly. It was like, it was…fireflies? In here? She hadn’t seen the bugs since her Chicago childhood. She lived in the city now, and nearly forgot the things existed. With each flash, and resulting glow, she caught all-too-brief glimpses of the room. And with a lurch, she saw the top of the dresser now bare.

Why couldn’t she hear him? Her precious fleeting light afforded no comfort, especially when it disappeared altogether. She lay there, blood rushing, as a pile of crushed fireflies fell upon her face.



When the Universe Knocks…

October 4th, 2014

There are two ways I know when the universe is asking me to pay attention to something:

  • The same comments/feedback/messages come to me again and again from people, places, and things.
  • Despite all my best efforts, my focus is brought repeatedly to an idea or thought process, usually one I’ve been trying to avoid or deign.

Let me back up and tell a story.


Last month, I began group weightlifting training led by a bodybuilding pro. In my first session, it became abundantly clear that I was the weakest weakling in the group. Many of the women in the class had been taking the session for years, or were frequent gym goers with muscle tone. I on the other hand, visit the gym sporadically and sport zero musculature.


My subpar strength showed itself most obviously during arm exercises, where I could barely do a regular pushup or bench anything even half of what the other women could lift.


Sure it was frustrating. When you leave a machine and the person behind you pulls the pin out of the weights and re-inserts it 85 weight bricks below your hard-to-manage, just-lifted weight, it stings.


I really didn’t let it get to me though and that’s the truth. I mean, I accepted that it would take me awhile to build up muscle and stamina. I knew it would be awhile before I would not die during tricep dips.


Still, I wanted to progress. I’d been taking twice-a-week strength-building classes for a month, and I thought I should be adding weight by now.


Apparently, the trainer agreed. When I asked what I “should” be pressing on the tricep machine, she asked the rest of the group what they do and when the answer came back 65-70 pounds, I about melted into a gelatinous fat puddle right there. I’d heard from a bodybuilder friend that it was recommended you advance weight by 5% every six weeks, and 65 pounds represented a more than 40% increase over my pansy norm, so I wasn’t sure that increase would work for me.


As I contemplated, the trainer said something like, “You build muscle by pushing yourself,” and “Most of the time, doing it is just a state of mind.” I knew both those statements were true, yet I wondered if “pushing myself,” would also mean “broken muscles.” Either way, so be it. This trainer is very focused on proper form and lifting safely, so I figured she must think I could do it.


And yet. The way she delivered those statements and the emphasis she put on certain words, suggested to me that she also believed a) I wasn’t pushing myself usually; and 2) I was choosing not to lift more. Because “a” can be true sometimes, I thought she knew something I didn’t and so I put the pin into 65 pounds. And my muscles broke.


I very nearly couldn’t operate the machine, but now I was irritated and close to pissed, and I wanted to show that I didn’t back down and that I had the right state of mind.


After dying, I walked to the next machine and upped the freaking weight from my norm, and again could barely lift. At that point, the trainer told me that if the weight is so high that I can’t do the exercise properly, I needed to adjust the pounds.


I then proceeded to passive-aggressively mutter something like, “Do you want me to put the weight up or the weight down? I thought this was state of mind,” and other things four-year-olds say when they’re upset.


I left the gym still mad and concluded that what I didn’t like about the whole thing was the alleged implication that I wasn’t pushing myself and my state of mind sucked.


That possibly imagined implication bothered me so because I wondered if they were true not just for weightlifting, but for my life, and I wondered this because I suspect there’s some truth in those statements.


“Is my state of mind why I’m not a millionaire?”

“Is my not pushing myself why I haven’t finished writing a book yet?”


It’s how you see people react the strongest to comments that they feel are somehow true about them. For me, it goes something like,


“Oh Debbie, you’re so blonde.”


(Wait. Am I blonde?)


It’s as if the universe is getting you to pay attention to the things you need to change, or not change, or acknowledge, or know.


For further instance, lately I’ve been plagued by noticing people who really push themselves and say things like “If you hustle, you’ll make things happen for yourself!” and “Focus and work the plan.”


Real go-getters like this and I don’t get along and never have, which says more about me than them. Yet, I see them everywhere and am bombarded with their “just go for it” messages, which I’ve deduced is the universe talking to me and getting me to push myself.


The truth is these people make me angry – another glaring clue that I probably need to learn something from them – because their focus tends to eclipse everything but the BLINKING GOAL IN FRONT OF THEM. And look, I know that’s probably good and why they meet goals, but does being focused and working the plan also mean you dismiss everything and everyone around you that doesn’t fit the MAKE IT HAPPEN mold?


I’ve been to a few conferences dedicated to GOING FOR IT and I really felt out of place. If what you say or what you do is not purposeful or devoted to how you can make more money and take over the world, you are viewed as frivolous and not invited to future conferences and then you just feel bad. Again, because you dimly grasp that you are probably not a JUST DO IT person and have no business fraternizing with DOING IT people.


It’s just that do the DO IT people need to be so smug about their less-DOING-IT brethren?


That’s neither here nor there.


Where this whole thing dovetails for me is that I probably DO need to DO more to be a better person, and progress in life, and make things happen for myself, but where I am on my road, maybe a 5% increase every four weeks IS pushing it and going for it and upping the ante by more than 40% in a month isn’t in your muscles, which doesn’t mean you don’t want it to be; it’s just that you’re working on it.


I may not be decoding the universe’s message properly, but I’ll keep my ears open, and next month when I’m 5% smarter, I’ll try again.


Because I may not push big, but my trying is large.


PROMPTuesday #235: The Songs

September 27th, 2014

We’d been waiting for the new parish center for years. Father Duffy brought its construction up at every mass and the fundraising was epic, as were the sales pitches: the auditorium would double as a roller skating rink, the young adult groups would have a place to meet, offices would be expanded allowing St. Mary’s to be served well and ably, the school would have an indoor basketball court  AND bleachers. Plus, even more exciting for some people who were my parents, a new church space would be built, and our clergy would no longer have to conduct mass in a little old charming chapel, because a larger, more modern, DISCO church would be added onto the small nave of the lovely historic space, with enough room for parishioners to bring extended family, distended soul, and pretended grace along with them.



The new church came first, but the always-to-be-built parish center plans ruled St. Mary’s student imaginations from 1978 to 1980.


Finally, the parish center renderings made themselves known in stone and concrete and glass, and everything Fr. Duffy promised arrived. I remember the week the parish center opened because John Lennon had just been shot, and the air was charged with history changing and that kind of feeling you get when a ripple in human collective consciousness lets loose.


Yet, my attention turned pretty quickly to the sleek, plastic-looking yellow-with-red-checks auditorium floors, the very ones to serve as a sometimes roller skating rink; and as foundation to the meeting space for the Young Adult Madness Society (Y.A.M.S.), run by my high-school-aged crush, Joe Pinder.


I’d just turned 12, and strange feelings arose in my solar plexus when  Air Supply’s “Lost in Love” played on my wooden Panasonic  stereo, a parent-bequeathed musical luxury with silver-ridged buttons I’d turn up to the right more often than to the left. I’d lay my head down on my bedroom’s green shag carpet next to the Panasonic’s speakers every night, a familiar movement I could re-enact for you to this day. Always waiting for the top 10 of the evening to be announced; I’d usually spend the time during commercials placing the faded blue-labeled Air Supply 45 on my turntable, laying the spindly needle down just so on the black vinyl, thrilling to the scratchy cue of impending solar-plexus pre-pubescent urges.


After my Air Supply moment, it was back to the radio, and if you ask me now, I could sing any song played on it from 1978 to 1983 word for word, especially those heart-piercingly sung by Christopher Cross, Eagles, or Dan Fogelberg.


I carried the sensibilities evoked by lyric and rhythm with me into the parish center’s opening. Everything had a soundtrack, naturally: my crush on Joe Pinder (“Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer”), my adolescence (“This is It”), and that yearning, churning, persistent tap on the pre-pubescent head, saying “who are you going to be? who are you going to be? who are you going to be?” (“Cool Change”).


EVERYTHING felt magical and touched by song. Like if the words I heard every night could come true and be real, if those stories familiar through speakers might be a kind of life I could create, if what were ahead were soul-thrumming, and heart-pounding, and love-bonking – delivered to me through renderings hinted at and eventually made known in 3D.


In the interim, I donned my orange-rubber-wheeled roller skates and hummed inside my head, as Fr. Duffy made pleas for the next thing, as Joe Pinder’s mom died of cancer, as I learned that songs could be fabrications, and as life continued to happen, ripple after ripple.




Today’s writing prompt is: what songs defined you? made you who you are? bring you back to a “time?”


Add your post/comment/prompt answer below in the comments or write a post of your own and include the link for us to read!


Meanwhile…to bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.


Or, catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.


Comparing Man Pain to Childbirth: Don’t Go There #ARant

September 26th, 2014

Just yesterday, my husband hobbled home from two days playing a racquetball tournament that wrecked him and every single muscle group in his whole entire body. At the end of the thing, he couldn’t walk, drive, or be. Ended up, I picked him up from a nearby shopping center where he was buying beer to bring over to a hot-tub-owning friend’s house.


He never made it.


His muscles clenched to the point where he cried, and could barely move without assistance.


When I picked him up, one of the first sentences out of his mouth was, “This probably feels as bad as childbirth.”


And then all my bitch alarm bells went off because Oh hell NO, he didn’t just say that.


His pain might feel like giving birth, but probably not, and more importantly, I would not presume to know how something feels unless I’ve felt it, even though I just did.


See, birthing a child is so impactful that drugs are shot DIRECTLY INTO your spine to numb the pain. And also that pain can last for hours, or even DAYS.


Then, the pain only alleviates after you push a large-poundage mass out of your delicate areas or are cut open.


So NO, not the freaking same as having muscles clench.


Stick an eight-pound mass in your pelvis and shoot it out your p@nis and then let’s talk.


Also, good luck with your muscles clenching for that few seconds!


(What? I am NOT PMSing.)