Monday, July 26, 2010

simplehuman Steel Frame Dishrack

L_KT1108 Don’t laugh.  You’d love this dishrack, too.  How long had I dealt with dishracks that basically got icky: rusty, moldy, messed up the counter, or just plain old gross?  Last year I attended a blogger tea hosted by simplehuman, a company that has products I was already using.  This past December, I reviewed their Tension Shower Caddy which I continue to love and still looks brand new.  simplehuman is already on my “companies with awesome stuff” list, so I was hopeful their line of dishracks would hold the answer to my prayers.  The simplehuman team was so kind to send me their Steel Frame Dishrack, $69.99, which is the largest of their dishracks.  I realize $70 may strike you as a lot to pay for a dishrack.  But, considering it’s something that you use daily and for most of us, several times a day, it makes sense to invest in a good one.  This one has everything covered, the stainless steel is fingerprint proof, the drip tray is extendable for when you have glasses hanging on the flip-out cup holders, the plate holder area allows you to customize with flip-up tines, the utensil holder has a bamboo knife block, the drain spout pivots so you can aim it to your sink.  The whole dishrack is customizable for either side of your sink, if you want to have it long or short alongside the sink and if you need to raise it for an overmount sink.  The whole thing comes apart easily so you can clean it all with soapy water or wash it in the top rack of your dishwasher.  No nasty crevices for icky stuff to get trapped!  How brilliant?  All this and it comes with a 5-year warranty. 


The main concept, I read is that you can leave it on your counter and have it still look nice in your kitchen because it hides dishes while drying.  I can see that working for people who KEEP UP with putting their dishes away.  I can.  I appreciate that if I could attain that and stay on top of that, I would have that look.  I personally appreciate that I can get backed up and still load it up and it lets me get away with it.  With the toddlers, I have a lot of stuff that I can’t put in the dishwasher, so I really use my dishrack a lot.  As you can see from my picture.  My hip 20-something babysitter even commented on how great the dishrack is the other day.  Yes, dear readers, we have a keeper.  Available at, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Sur La Table.

South Coast Plaza = Mall Heaven

Not to dwell on the past, but to understand me a little better, it is worth telling you a little bit about my youth.  Growing up, the mall closest to my house was referred to as “the worst mall”.  Full of stores that had no relevance to me or my friends.  I would go there and wonder how I could be so unlucky.  Ironically, the mall located closest to my beach house was, if possible, an even worse mall.  That mall had wall to wall carpeting.  Need. I.  Say.  More?  I dreamed of growing up and living near a really great mall.  Ok, I realize I sound shallow and snobby.  Realize that: 1) this was me, as a kid, thinking these things, 2) of course I had other goals and 3) this is my blog and I can say whatever I want.

When I walk into South Coast Plaza I want to throw my arms in the air, twirl around and then lie on the marble floor and make snow angels.  Oh, my, mall!  How is it possible so much fabulous retail exists in one walkable locale?  I was really lucky to attend South Coast Plaza’s recent Blogger Event along with a number of LA and Orange County fashion and travel bloggers.  Our schedule kicked off in the VIP ACCESS Suite, located in the Saks Fifth Avenue wing on level 2.  VIP members receive free valet parking and membership in the suite which provides guests with a place to relax, store purchases and enjoy refreshments.  The suite also has a Zen Room and a Sports Lounge and is attended by a concierge who will handle personal requests including dining reservations and event tickets.  When I was in here I couldn’t help but think that certain people who get dragged to go shopping would love hanging out in the VIP ACCESS Suite whilst the other members of their party shopped!  We were briefed on our agenda, given our lovely canvas gift bags and {{{woosh}}} the fashionistas in the group swept me up and out the door towards our first stop, the Tumi Boutique.

As a multi-lingual, globetrotter, having lived in a few different countries, I have been on a search for the perfect piece of luggage since I got my first passport at age 5.  I suspect I’ll always be looking but I must say Tumi certainly sets the standard for innovation, creativity and understanding the needs of the modern traveler.  The staff at Tumi demonstrated packing techniques (see video) showing us how to use some of their packing accessories including the packing cubes and flat folding packs for optimum efficiency.  All the bloggers were thrilled when we found out Tumi was giving each of us a Just In Case Tote which is the perfect bag that zips up into its own pouch and turns into a sturdy, handy tote bag when you find out you “over-shopped” or were “over-swagged” and need an extra bag for the trip back home.  Tumi gets major stars for a really useful blogger gift!

Next stop was Spa Nordstrom Escape for a Blogger Bronzing Session using St. Tropez air-brush spray tanning process.  We had our faces done and I was really impressed with how quickly the results appeared and how natural it looked.  The tan lasts for several days and can be maintained for weeks with at home application of the St. Tropez products.  The spa offers a menu of services and is a really nice offering that I had no idea existed at Nordstroms.  The staff is really warm and friendly and gave us tours of the treatment rooms.  I noted that they have showering facilities which is a nice amenity to have available for clients.  All tanned and refreshed, but, sadly, no time to shop for shoes…We did a fashionista march to our next destination: Henri Bendel.

I can’t say it any better than describes themselves: “Henri Bendel is a girls’ playground, where Bendel girls go to find the new and the next in accessories, cosmetics and gifts.”  You know how you felt when you were about 8 and walked into a candy store?  Ok, now you get it.  The other thing is that things there can be splurge-y, yet at the same time, incredibly practical.  Plus the price points allow absolutely anyone to have something from Henri Bendel.  I personally was digging the “Disturbed Stripe” Collection, especially the The Disturbed Stripe Beach Towel.  I want that towel.  Will someone please give me one?  I’m not picky, but if you are asking, I’d like the one with the red trim.  Thanks.  The Travel Candle Collection is coming back by popular demand at the end of this month.  Available in stores and online, in scents like Lemon Verbena, Peony and Vanilla Bean and only $15, it’s a nice way to bring a travel friendly candle on your summer vacation.  I could have spent hours in Henri Bendel, but we needed to continue our mall crawl.

Next stop: Intimacy, bra fit stylists.  The newly opened boutique is part of a chain of “life changing” stores that help women find the right bra, show them how to care of their bra and often transform them physically and mentally.  I don’t know the exact statistic, but I’ve heard that something like more than half of all women wear the wrong size bra.  At Intimacy, the associates are highly trained in their product lines, made up mostly of European brands and work to figure out what your lifestyle and wardrobe needs are.  Then figure out what bras are right for you.  Pretty cool.  They also have sports bras, tanks with built-bras, all kinds of bra accessories and laundry care products.  Quite a brilliant concept to find exactly the right bra.

My blogger pal, Rockin’ Mama and I made a quick stop into Molten Brown, the British based chain that carries personal care products like soap, shampoos and body washes as well as candles and room sprays.  They gave us a cute little sample pack of body lotion, bath and shower gel and liquid handwash.  With names like Coco de Mer, Wilde Fairyfleur and Naran Ji, you really have to visit to revel in the cocktail scents the Molten Brown geniuses have created.  On a funny note, I asked the staff where they had other stores and they said only in New York.  A few days later, I was in New York for the Kelly Ripa Ovarian Cancer Benefit Event and found a Molten Brown a block from my hotel.  I ducked in for a quick purchase.  I’m not a huge fan of heavy perfumes, but I do love shower gels.  Molten Brown scents are perfectly scented and yummy!

All the bloggers met up at AnQi by Crustacean, the restaurant owned by the An family of the famous Crustacean restaurant in Beverly Hills, of which I am a fan.  We sipped cocktails and had a delicious special menu that was prepared for us.  Then the restaurant lights dimmed and the catwalk lights brightened and the La Perla Summer Fashion Show began.  La Perla is best known for lingerie, but they do have a line of bathing suits and cover ups.  It was lovely to have Elizabeth An, third-generation of The House of An, stop by our table for a chat.  I knew about the “secret kitchen” in Crustacean and asked if there was one at AnQi.  She confirmed that they did indeed have on there as well.  It was so nice of AnQi to give all the bloggers gift certificates to return to AnQi for another visit.  I can’t wait to take Surfer Guy.

Well, what a day we had at the best mall ever possibly imagined.  South Coast Plaza is a destination mall…People travel from all over the world to shop there.  I’m so lucky I’m just a quick minivan jaunt away from a childhood dream realized: a really great mall.  For my readers who aren’t as lucky as I am, there are some hotel packages being offered this summer in partnership with South Coast Plaza: The Montage Laguna Beach is offering the Shopping Spree Special and The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel has the Pack Your Bags Shopping Package.  For full details on South Coast Plaza, visit  I’d like to thank South Coast Plaza for inviting me to this excellent event and for the lovely “South Coast Plaza Loves Bloggers” gift bag I was given.  I love South Coast Plaza back!

Photo Credits: Caryn Bailey of Rockin’ Mama and Crush Studios

Monday, July 19, 2010

I’m a BlogLuxe Awards Finalist!

blogluxe-finalist-button-250x250 First of all, it is an honor just to be nominated. But then to receive enough votes to put me in the top five vote getters in the category “Blogs We Learned The Most From”?  Well, I’m humbled.  It’s often a lonely blogger existence, late in the night, just me, my computer and an occasional opossum wandering by the window.  To whomever nominated me: thank you!  To everyone who voted: Thank you!  I hope I helped a bit, changed it up some and had something for everyone.  The e-mail informing me that I am a finalist began: Congratulations! Based on reader votes, you are a finalist for the 2010 BlogLuxe Awards!  Thank you for writing such organized/amazing/beautiful/hilarious/inspiring/fun/over the edge/tasty/downright awesome blogs!  Two winners from each category chosen by our VIP "Academy" will be announced at the Avery SocialLuxe Lounge in New York City on August 5, 2010. The Avery SocialLuxe Lounge takes place the night before BlogHer 2010 the big annual blogging conference that is being held this year in New York City.  I wonder if winners have to make speeches?  I’d like to thank the academy, my first writing teacher Mrs. Mayo, my…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Do Good Day

200x200_ver2 Today I teamed up with six other Los Angeles area mom bloggers on the first ever “Do Good Day” sponsored by 77kids by American Eagle and The Motherhood.  Do Good Day was held today in 11 cities across the country each with 7 mom bloggers and their children (thus the 77 and their kids, cool, eh?) did various community service projects and pay it forward acts of goodness in their communities.  Our team, made up of Aracely, Caryn, Ciaran, Linda, Liz, Stephanie, several of our kids and myself set up at Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach which is a popular beach destination for parents and their young kids.  Our Do Good Day project was having kids make Get Well cards for kids at The Children’s Hospital of Orange County.  We had four big tables set up with colorful cards, envelopes, ink stamps, stickers, crayons, markers and pens.  Kids of all ages were able to make a card for another kid and have a blast doing it.

When the kids finished their cards, they “posted” them into a basket and received a $1 bill from 77kids along with a list of 7 good things to do with a dollar and on the other side of the paper was a list of good deeds to do for free.  It was really nice to see almost every kid listen as we explained what was being handed to them even though they were supposed to be off having a fun beach day.  Then, the kids were given rewards for participating in Do Good Day.  We on the LA team were thrilled to have two fabulous sponsors join forces with us on Do Good Day: Ruby’s Diner, a chain with a location right in Seaside Lagoon, give each child who made a Get Well card a kid’s milk shake as well as a coupon for a free kid’s meal.  Cold Stone Creamery, the chain of ice cream shops, donated $5 gift cards that were given to each child who made a Get Well card.  What a fabulously fun and successful day we had!  I love it when everything comes together and just works.  Especially when it means doing good and keeping the good moving on.  Here is a link to the news story of our event in The Daily Breeze newspaper.  To find out what happened on Do Good Day in the other 10 cities, check out The Motherhood Do Good Day Circle.

Disclosure: I am being compensated by 77kids by American Eagle and The Motherhood for my participation in Do Good Day.  I am not being compensated for this post.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Childproofing My Toyota Sienna

When Kimberlee Mitchell, Child Safety Expert & Professional Childproofer, came with the Safety 1st Squad to childproof my house, she also childproofed my minivan.  We shot a quick video to go with this post to get you started thinking about keeping your family safe on the road.  I think it’s amazing that there is so much that we don’t realize when it comes to safety and preventing injuries in our family cars.  Here are some of Kimberlee’s key tips: eliminate projectiles, ensure you have your car seats properly installed, make sure you have the right car seat for your child, do not use your cell phone while driving, use techniques to prevent forgetting your baby in the car, hide your keys from kids.  For complete information please read Kimberlee’s blog post Childproofing the Car.

I have a big interest in car seats and consider myself to be really knowledgeable about them and about installation.  Here is a link to a blog post about a AAA/Dorel Juvenile Group survey (Dorel is the parent company of Safety 1st) that shows most parents don’t know the height and age requirements for car seats.  Further, and most alarmingly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75% of car seats are not properly installed!  I learned how to install a car seat properly before Chip was born by meeting with a car seat tech who went over the specifics with me.  I’ve since taken advantage of any opportunity to speak with a police officer at a child safety event and opportunities like working with Kimberlee and Safety 1st.  Believe me, if I can learn how to install a car seat correctly, anyone can.  Kimberlee has a blog post, Car Seat Confusion: Which direction? Which location? When do they outgrow it?  Her post also includes a tv segment she shot on San Diego Living showing the proper installation of car seats in a Toyota Sienna.  She shows us some some good tips, including using a pool noodle to get a good install.  Now buckle up and be safe!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chip & Kelly Ripa Make Banana Splits for a Cause

KellyRipa_Splits1 My very good friend’s mom died several years ago from ovarian cancer.  Just thinking about it is totally crushing for me.  Steve’s mom was the cool mom who made sure she had the party house.  Pool in the backyard, great room with lots of sofas to hang out on, it was a fun place to be a teenager.  Steve and his wife had their first baby a year ago and I know his mom would have loved being a grandmother.  There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer and it is also difficult to diagnose making it an especially important disease to spread the word about.  I was honored when the Electrolux Team invited Chip and I to New York to help kick off “Banana Splits for a Cause” to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).

At the event, in celebration of Electrolux’s new stand-alone refrigerator and freezer (the appliance pair has “split” up) Kelly Ripa teamed up with the “Emperor of Ice Cream” Stephen Bruce, owner and founder of Serendipity 3, the famous New York City restaurant and dessert spot.  [If you find yourself in Manhattan, I recommend making a stop at Serendipity 3 to try their Frrrozen Hot Chocolate—yum!]  Chip and I joined other bloggers and their kids from all over the country as Stephen instructed Kelly and the kids on how to create the perfect banana split.  Chip opted to go the all vanilla route while Kelly took a scoop of each flavor.  The signature technique, we learned, is to stick the bananas in so they look like horns.  For Chip, the key ingredient was the multi-colored sprinkles, of course.  Everyone’s creations complete, all the kids got busy eating!

Now here is how you can get involved and make your own virtual banana split to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund: visit and build your own banana split using virtual ingredients.  Ok, I’ll level with you that it’s NOT as tasty as the ones we made with Kelly and Stephen, BUT, these have NO calories and will never melt!  Plus, they are for an important cause!  For each “split” that is created, Electrolux will donate $1 to OCRF as part of its $750,000 commitment to help fight ovarian cancer.  To sweeten the deal, everyone who builds a banana split will be automatically entered for a chance to win the daily prize--$50 towards sweet summer treats—and the grand prize: the new stand alone refrigerator and freezer from Electrolux.  I got to see the refrigerator and freezer at the event and had total appliance envy.  The site also has Serendipity 3’s banana split recipes for when you’ve decided you need more than just the virtual kind.

Meeting Kelly was really fun.  She made her way all over the room several times chatting with everyone and seeing how the kids were doing.  I had tried to prepare Chip for meeting Kelly by putting on Live with Regis & Kelly a couple of times in the days before the event.  That morning in the hotel room, I put it on and Chip commented positively on Kelly’s high heeled shoes.  When Kelly came over to say hi, Chip got an attack of shyness.  I told Kelly that Chip had really liked her shoes on the show that morning.  At the event she was wearing a different, equally glamorous pair of heels.  Kelly said to Chip, “Thank you for noticing!”  I subsequently found out that Kelly was wearing a Gryphon dress and Brian Atwood shoes.  Luckily, the next time Kelly stopped by, Chip was a lot more talkative.  What a fabulous event, what an awesome cause!  Now split and make your split!  You have until September 7, 2010.

This post is dedicated in fond memory of Steve’s mom, Hilda.

Legal information & disclosure:

Sweepstakes participants are not required to make a purchase or donation in order to enter.  Complete details are available in the Official Rules on  Electrolux will donate $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund for each virtual banana split built at Kelly Confidential.  Electrolux has pledged to donate a minimum of $35,000 and a maximum of $40,000, as part of its $750,000 commitment to the cause.  My participation in the ‘Banana Splits’ Campaign for a Cause was sponsored by Electrolux who provided me with travel arrangements to and accommodations in New York to participate.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Childproofing with the Safety 1st Squad

When it comes to childproofing, I consider myself to be fairly aware of the potential dangers in my home.  However, when it comes to figuring out what to get, where to get it and then, oy, actually installing it and installing it correctly…I start to glaze over.  One of the things I love about blogging is being able to be connected to so many great experts who then become part of my network of experts.  A favorite quote of mine from Ann Landers from years ago was that if she didn’t have the answer, “she always knew who to call.”  When my friends at Safety 1st contacted me and asked if I’d like to have Kimberlee Mitchell, Child Safety Expert & Professional Childproofer, who is chief advisor to The Safety 1st Squad, come to my house, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough.  Kimberlee arrived bright and early one morning and we sat down at my dining room table and talked.  I learned that unintentional injury is the number one killer of America’s children between the ages of 1 and 4, claiming more lives than both violence and all disease combined.  If that didn’t cause you to sit up straight, I don’t know what will.  Kimberlee says that by taking childproofing precautions, it is estimated that 90% of these injuries can be avoided.  I suddenly had an urge to go check on Chip and Lulu.  Gulp!

Next Kimberlee and I discussed Childproofing 101.  Now, here is where I will tell you that you can start to feel bogged down.  So I’m going to tell you to stick with me and let’s look at attacking it in manageable chunks.  Kimberlee recommends you start to childproof during pregnancy when you will have some time to tackle the tasks.  Childproof, yes, but combine it with consistent proactive parenting that teaches your kids to understand boundaries.  Lengthen the life of your childproofing by not allowing your child to study you using the devices--even a toddler can figure out some childproofing mechanisms.  Keep some areas and rooms in your home off limits and even use two layers of protection as back up for extra dangerous rooms, ie: the laundry room.  Think like a child and realize that your kids can get creative and use something in a way that you would never think of.  Anything that will fit inside an empty cardboard toilet paper roll is a choking hazard.  When it comes to pools, exterior doors or any extra dangerous areas consider layers of childproofing in case one layer fails.  Anchor all items that are tipping hazards, furniture and tv’s can kill.  Kimberlee has written a comprehensive guide, Childproofing 101: How to Create a Baby Safe Home Environment and I think it really is a gift that this is available to all of us on the Safety 1st site.  I have provided some highlights from the guide, definitely read it for the expert’s eye view.

Ok, remember I asked you to stick with me?  So you’ve identified the issues around your home.  Kimberlee helped me identify mine.  Now what?  You can run to a store like Target or Babies R Us and buy childproofing products.  Just figuring out what to get can be a headache.  Then you get the products home.  Next, you have to figure out how to install them, whether you have the right tools, then actually finding the time to do it.  Inevitably, it’s something that can easily be put off.  So there sits your bag of childproofing supplies.  I’m all for saving a buck and doing it the least expensive way possible.  However, when it comes to childproofing, it just might make sense to call in the pros.  The time, aggravation, product knowledge, problem solving and ultimately child safety that you are paying for is worth it.  I also learned that all of us have access to mass consumer child proofing products.  However, child safety professionals additionally have some pro grade products that they can utilize, if needed, in your home.  Kimberlee started her childproofing business, Boo Boo Busters, Inc., when her first child was a baby.  She quickly became known as “The Childproofer to the Hollywood Stars” and has many celebrities as clients.  Great, you’re thinking, this must be REALLY expensive.  Not necessarily!  It all depends on what your needs are.  You can have a consultation, basic install all the way up to an elaborate, complicated job in a huge mansion.  The Safety 1st Squad currently services Southern California and the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area.  If you don’t live in their service areas, you can visit the National Association for Childproofers to locate a member near you.


After my meeting with Kimberlee, she returned a few days later with a member of her Safety 1st Squad to do the installations as well as bring me several products to use all over the house.  The Safety 1st guy got to work installing some cabinet locks: one bathroom cabinet got Tot Lok magnetic locks, my kitchen cabinet where I keep my cleaning supplies got Spring ‘n Release latches, and a tough to figure-out-what-to-do-with lazy susan cabinet received a Wide Grip latch.  Next, some big bookcases in my living room were attached to the wall and an older TV that I have in my den (not flat panel) was attached to the wall using straps that Kimberlee special ordered—another reason to use a pro.  Here is MY real life childproofing and, because I live in Southern California, earthquake-proofing situation: My husband had already attached the safety straps to our large flat screen tv in our living room.  However, he still hadn’t gotten around to putting the safety straps on the two large bookcases we had bought two months ago.  In the meantime, we had made sure there was a loveseat in front of them to break their fall, but really is that the way to do things?  In the video, you can see the Safety 1st guy installing the safety straps on our bookcases.  The whole installation went so quickly and with Kimberlee here as well, it was easy to see that you really are benefitting from all the experience these pros bring to your house.  I have slightly unusual kitchen cabinets so they had to problem solve on the lazy susan and switch from the original plan to something else.  If I had been on my own, I probably would have just given up.

Many of my readers will remember my Bosch Washer & Dryer post where I wrote about the dangers of children climbing inside front loading washers and dryers.  Some Bosch models come with a keypad locking feature which is an awesome safety feature and I hope all manufacturers make this standard.  Kimberlee introduced me to the Front Load Washer-Dryer Lock which can be installed on washers and dryers that don’t have a built-in locking feature.  Some bathtub safety products that we have put to good use are: the Bath Pal Thermometer, Froggy & Friends Bath Mat & Soft Spout Cover all of which have been excellent and “why didn’t we get these sooner?” items!  Two more products that I would recommend: Clear View Stove Knob Covers and Clearly Soft Corner Guards—previously I had taped bubble wrap on a couple of sharp corners—this looks better!  And finally, Surfer Guy’s favorite for keeping tabs on Lulu: The Safety 1st Prism Color Video Monitor, which includes remote zoom and baby’s room temperature.  Really fabulous!  There are many more products, including car seats, like the Complete Air Convertible Car Seat that I reviewed here.  For a full overview of the products, visit also, be sure to visit Kimberlee’s Safety Blog

Ah, there is nothing like being able to check those tasks off your to-do list, not having to be in conflict with your husband and just knowing the job was done right.  Thank you Kimberlee and thank you Safety 1st Squad!  Ah, but we weren’t totally done…Kimberlee still had to childproof my minivan!