Sunday, May 30, 2010

HP's Do Amazing Contest-Call for Entries

I recently entered a friend of mine in a contest that was searching for people with extraordinary spirit and determination. I didn't really expect anything because I've nominated my friends and family in contests before and never gotten anywhere. But this time my entry and my friend made it to the semifinals! No word on finalist status yet, but they picked 100 people out of all the entries in the U.S. to be semifinalists. I think that's pretty special in and of itself. That made me a believer!

I recently received an email about HP's Do Amazing contest. If you are doing amazing things, you have a chance to win an HP Technology Grant of up to $25,000. In conjunction with The Huffington Post, HP has just launched the "Do Amazing: What are you going to do?" call for entries for people who are doing amazing, or who have amazing plans to make an impact on business, life or the Earth with HP technology and services.

HP and the Huffpost editors will select ten finalists, and voters will choose two grand prize winners. Grand prize winners will receive up to $25,000 in HP products and/or services to help them get started on their cutting-edge projects. Other finalists will receive products and services up to $5,000.

If you are doing something amazing, I encourage you to take part. For more information and rules about the contest, click here. You can do it!

I did not receive compensation for this post. I am encouraging you to participate because there is money out there in the blogosphere to support you in your passion! You know who you are!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Empire State of Mind-Sex and The City 2 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Review

When I think of my life in Manhattan in my 20s I usually erase all the bad stuff and only remember the good. After all, those were the days of my youth. So when I watch Sex and The City*  in any of its manifestations, I think of all the places I've been and all the characters I've been. I was first Samantha--offered drugs at Tunnel (turned it down!), then Carrie--in a relationship with a man who wouldn't commit to marriage, then Miranda--the young corporate attorney, and finally Charlotte--wife (to the right man!) and mother living in a high-rise, doorman building. When my husband got a job in California, I felt like it was the right time to leave. After all, I tried to follow all the other advice in The Sunscreen Song. So I had to leave New York, before it made me hard.

We moved to California shortly after R was born. The original Sex and The City was the first movie I watched in the theater that summer. I watched it in a suburban theater instead of at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square like I would have if we had stayed in New York. I remember crying during the opening credits when they showed the Manhattan skyline. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with how hormonal I was after having R, but it was also the cry of my heart for my youth. Even now, when I watch the shows or the movie on DVD, I wax nostalgic about the life and times I had on those hard New York streets. So when the opportunity came up to review Sex and The City 2: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, naturally I couldn't pass it up.

I think that the song Empire State of Mind most epitomizes New York and how people think about it. It really is the concrete jungle where dreams are made up. There is a certain personality that makes its way to New York, and when you're among eight million of that type of person, you can't help but feel that there's nothing you can't do, now that you're in New York. I loved the song when Jay-Z and Bridget Kelly performed it on SNL, and I loved it even more on this CD because it's straight Alicia Keys (love her vocals!), Broken Down version of Empire State Of Mind.

I love the second track on the album-Everything to Lose. I think Dido sings of every [New York] girl's dilemma when she is no longer single; how to come to grips with no longer being free and at the same time acquiring something you don't want to lose. When you give up your singleness to be with someone, you really give up a piece of your previous identity, but gain something even more precious. At least you have to decide ultimately it is more precious, otherwise it's not worth it to lose yourself like Samantha came to realize at the end of the first movie. But don't think that the album is filled with only heavy, thought-provoking songs. Liza Minnelli, the original New York New York girl dishes Beyonce’s Single Ladies Put A Ring On It (it was fun to compare it with the Chipettes version emblazoned in my mind from the latest Alvin movie) and the stars of the movie, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon put their own spin on Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman, so there are a lot of songs that will have you smiling while you listen. Can’t Touch It by Rickee Lee will have you jumping up to dance wherever you are.

I love the songs from Broadway shows on the album: If Ever I Would Leave You, Sunrise Sunset and Till There Was You by the new group called the Sex and the City Men’s Choir; Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Shayna Steele, Jordan Ballard and Kamilah Marshall; and Everytime We Say Goodbye by Liza Minnelli with Billy Stritch. One of my dreams is to see H perform on Broadway, so Broadway tunes are a big thing in our house. A mama can dream, right? Other cuts in the soundtrack album are Rapture by Alicia Keys; Language Of Love by Cee Lo; Window Seat by Erykah Badu; Kiddo by Natacha Atlas; Euphrates Dream by Michael McGregor; Love Is Your Color by Jennifer Hudson and Leona Lewis; True Colors by Cyndi Lauper; and Divas And Dunes by Aaron Zigman.

I will be listening to this album over and over again. I'm already a fan on Facebook and in my heart! I'm so excited to watch Sex and the City 2 tonight so I can put the songs together with the scenes in my mind. New York--tonight I will have an Empire State of Mind!

*You'll notice I capitalize "The" throughout this post--my good friend and native New Yorker KMY told me in college that any true New Yorker knows New York is The City.

I did not receive any compensation for this post. I received a copy from the One2One Network for review purposes. Sex and the City 2: Original  Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on May  25th and the film opened in theaters May 27th.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wear the Pants--Dockers GIVEAWAY!

UPDATE WINNERS-Congrats to numbers 22, 6, 10, 13, and 21 picked by RANDOM.ORG. I will be emailing you so please email me back with your address and size. Please come back next week for my Cold Stone Creamery Father's Day Giveaway. Thanks!
Dockers 10,000 Acts of Chivalry
On Mother's Day, from 10 am – 2 pm, 100 khaki-clad men hit the streets of New York and San Francisco and performed over 25 chivalrous acts per hour. If you live in San Francisco or New York City, you may have seen them in New York City at Times Square, Bryant Park, and Broadway Matinee Shows or in San Francisco at Union Square, Ferry Building, and the Cow Hollow area.

To celebrate chivalry being alive and well Dockers will help five lucky readers of my blog to WEAR THE PANTS by winning a pair of Dockers Soft Khaki in Carmel

Dockers Wear The PantsHOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:  Contest period runs from Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 9:00 AM (Pacific) until Monday, May 24, 2010 at 11:59 PM (Pacific). Enter by going to the Dockers site and then coming back here to leave a comment with one thing you've learned about Dockers, and leave your e-mail address OR sign in to comments using your Blogger ID, make sure your Blogger profile is public and includes your e-mail address.

Bonus Entries (leave a separate comment for each entry)
1) Follow me on twitter
2) Tweet this contest and leave the tweet url

If you don't leave a qualifying comment and your e-mail address or public Blogger profile, your entry will be disqualified. I reserve the right to extend the contest period. At the end of the contest period, I will utilize to randomly choose the five winners. Winners will be contacted by e-mail. Winners have 72 hours to respond to my e-mail. If the winners do not respond within 72 hours, the prizes will go to the next place winner(s) as decided by This contest is open for US Residents only. A huge thank you and much appreciation to Dockers for its generosity!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

LA Food Tours Part One-Mendocino Farms and LooHoo's

If you haven't already figured out from my previous posts, I love to eat. A lot of my previous posts are dedicated to my trying to get in shape. Yes I want to be healthy, but the main reason I want to exercise is so I can burn calories in order to eat more. Is this wrong? I feel like most of the first year of my life here in LA was spent in a cave; I didn't go out much because R was so young. The foodie highlight of that year was probably my one and only lunch at The Ivy--seriously the best fried chicken I've had in my life. I've slowly been going out more in search of Good Eats (sorry Alton Brown, if I'm infringing some trademark there) during R's second year. Some major Good Eats were found at Kogi, Flossie's Southern Cuisine, Gyenari, Il Fornaio and a Taiwanese place near Walnut I can't even write the name of in English. I've also had the chance to taste some DEE-licious food at blogger events. Two events in the past month stand out especially in my food memory, both focused on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. After the second event, some of the bloggers decided we should embark on an LA Food Tour and I realized that we had already started! We have some ideas brewing so this is just the beginning of my LA food blogs.

 Mendocino Farms

If you live or work in downtown LA or in Marina Del Rey, you have a new favorite sandwich shop. I developed a love of sandwiches when I did my junior year abroad in England. The first time I bit into a Coronation Chicken Salad sandwich with mango chutney, the flavor combination blew me away. When I lived in New York, I had a pretty good version of  this sandwich at least once a month at Pret A Manger. I was so excited when I went to the Mendocino Farms Grand Opening blogger event at Waterside, Marina Del Rey and saw the Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich on the menu. If it's anything like all the other items I tried that day, I know it will be bursting with umami! Mendocino Farms sources all of their ingredients locally so the salads of the day depend on what was available at the local farmers markets that day.

H is a very picky eater so it said a lot about the food that he ate over 10 meatballs. He will reject meatballs if they aren't just right and Mendocino Farms passed the test! R, on the other hand, is a eating fanatic and was eating everything the entire time, stopping only for a few jam sessions. I can't really describe how great the food is, so I'll let the photos speak for themselves. The drinks are awesome too--when was the last time you went to a sandwich shop with Boylan's soda on tap? I can't wait to go back. Currently the kid's menu is only available at the Marina Del Rey location. Mendocino Farms also celebrated opening of their new location by hosting the inaugural kids club meeting at Waterside Marina Del Rey. The children's band Rhythm Child was there--the boys had a blast after H accepted he couldn't go up on the stage and perform with them. The band puts it out there that children can appreciate real music and they do! My Gym was also there with a fun obstacle course.

 LooHoo's-Asian Comfort Food

Cindy Liu has the exact right idea of what makes comfort food--carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Noodles, dumplings and noodle soups are all things that are go-to foods for me whenever I'm indulging myself in emotional eating or when I'm sick. Cindy recently hosted a food tasting for bloggers from the LA Moms Blog. I trekked to the tasting in Ventura County, partly so I could finally say I've been there and know where it is! We started off with yummy Lychee Martinis, then gorged ourselves on dumplings. I didn't know how I could eat more but I did manage a couple of helpings each of the summer cold noodle salad and the Thai red curry noodles. I didn't have any room for the mango sticky rice but had a taste of the decadent coconut sauce anyway. It was a good thing I drank two diet cokes during the dinner, otherwise I might have fallen asleep on the way back to the South Bay from all those carbs!

Loo Hoo's sources its ingredients from local farmers and producers to ensure fresh, high quality ingredients. It uses natural, farm raised meats that have been humanely raised with no growth hormones, antibiotics or animal by-product feeds. If you live in Ventura County or the Santa Clarita Valley, you can find Loo Hoo's at your local farmer's market:
THURS: Thousand Oaks Farmer's Market, at the Oaks Mall (1:30-6:30pm)
SUNDAY: College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Lot 8 (8am-noon).
If you live farther away in the Los Angeles area, Loo Hoo's is available to cater your next event. You can pick from their current products listed below, or let them design a special Asian Comfort Food® themed menu for your next event!

  • LooHoo's ® Original (Cindy's family recipe)
  • The Mondu Twist (a Korean style dumpling inspired by a trip to Korea)
  • The Veggie - (Another LooHoo’s® creation, 'cause everyone needs their veggies!)
  • Fresh Ramen Noodles
  • Soba Noodles
  • Thai Red Curry Noodles
  • Mabo Ramen
  • LooHoo's ® Magic Dumpling Dipping Sauce™ (Original and Spicy)
  • Hot n' Sour
  • Chinese Beef Noodle Soup
  • LooHoo's® 'Shroom-Tastic Veggie Noodle Soup™
I really enjoyed meeting Cindy and learning about the genesis of her company. She had always been interested in food but had chosen the safer corporate route, even getting an MBA along the way. Finally, one day Cindy decided to follow her passion and give her dreams a chance to come true. I really admire that. People who are passionate about what they do are few and far between these days. So many things like paying for student loans and health insurance get in the way. I really hope that Cindy will achieve her dream of LooHoo's becoming the Asian Buitoni. Keep an eye out for it in the refrigerated section of your local supermarket!

I did not receive compensation for this post. I was fortunate enough to taste the food from Mendocino Farms and Loohoos for review purposes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


UPDATE: WINNERS---CONGRATS TO #6 (MARBLE RACERS), #11 (TOOTH FAIRY), #1 (TOOTH FAIRY) AND #7 (BITDEFENDER INTERNET SECURITY 2010).  Thanks to everyone who entered!  My next giveaway starting next week will be five pairs of DOCKERS, just in time for Father's Day! 


May for those of you us who love TV is sweeps month. I thought I would celebrate the abundance of original programming with a mega three-in-one giveaway. These are the items you can win:

BitDefender Internet Security 2010: locks out viruses, hackers, and spam while providing parental control and firewall protection. It will protect one computer for one full year (not just the rest of 2010). BitDefender just launched a new security resource for online parents called BitMoms (dads are welcome too!). It is an interactive website and social network that is designed to provide news, content and tools for parents and parent bloggers in order to make the internet a safer place for children and families.

Light-Up Marble Racers: combines the racing exciting of mini-toy sports cars and the classic amusement of marbles to create a fun new toy for toddler boys and girls. Your kids can customize their Marble Racers with themed, easy to use, crack & peel racing decals, race their cars on standard tracks, and then watch as the flashing LED marble rolls to keep pace. My boys H&R had a blast trying out these cars. The only thing that might make the car better might be a pull back motor so the car will go on its own (I only noticed this because R was trying to do it), but the boys definitely enjoyed the cars regardless. One Random Mommy reader will win a 6-car collector set courtesy of Skullduggery: Police Racer, Fire Racer, Cats' Eye Racer, Cyclone Racer, Confetti Racer, and Volcano Racer.

Tooth Fairy: Dwayne Johnson (The Game Plan) stars as Derek Thompson, a hard-charging minor league hockey player whose nickname comes from his ability to knock out other players’ teeth.  After discouraging a youngster’s hopes, he is ordered to one week’s hard labor as the real Tooth Fairy, complete with the requisite tutu, wings and magic wand. At first he “can’t handle the tooth,” but eventually learns how to adapt to his new position and finds himself rediscovering his own forgotten dreams. From Emmy award-winning director Michael Lembeck (“Friends”), the whimsical adventure features a stellar supporting cast including Academy Award winner Julie Andrews (Enchanted), Ashley Judd (Crossing Over, Helen), Stephan Merchant (“The Office”), and professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler. It's definitely a fairy tale younger audiences will enjoy. When my family sat down to watch my review copy, my toddlers were interested during the hockey and music scenes, but not so much the fairy scenes (but my kids fulfill every gender stereotype of being boys' boys so are not too much into fairies). TWO Random Mommy readers will win their own DVD, courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, to watch in the comfort of their own homes.

HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:Contest period runs from Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 7:00 PM (Pacific) until Monday, May 10, 2010 at 11:59 PM (Pacific). Enter by leaving a comment of which item you would like to win, and leave your e-mail address OR sign in to comments using your Blogger ID, make sure your Blogger profile is public and includes your e-mail address. If you don't leave a comment that includes your prize preference and your e-mail address or public Blogger profile, your entry will be disqualified. One entry per person. I reserve the right to extend the contest period. At the end of the contest period, I will utilize to randomly choose the four winners. Winners will be contacted by e-mail. Winners have 72 hours to respond to my e-mail. If the winners do not respond within 72 hours, the prizes will go to the next place winner(s) as decided by This contest is open for US Residents only. A huge thank you and much appreciation to the sponsors for their generosity.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Child's Play LA Blogger's Brunch

Mother's Day started early for me this year with a fabulous LA Blogger brunch last month sponsored by Child's Play PR/Marketing Communications.  We gathered at the fabulous Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach for a yummy brunch (omelet bar!) and the opportunity to see and touch some great new kids, mom and family products. I loved seeing my friends from the LA Moms Blog and meeting new mommy bloggers. It was the perfect informal setting; you could eat, mingle, and talk at your own pace with the representatives from the various companies set up at tables around the hotel patio. One of the first tables I approached before I even ate my lox and cream cheese on sesame bagel was the Cold Stone Creamery table sampling their new Double Stuf Oreo Ice Cream sandwiches. I'm a firm believer in the saying, "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first!" I think you need to love Oreos (which I do) to enjoy this treat because it basically tastes like a giant frozen Oreo cookie. Cold Stone also gave me a gift card so I could share the new sandwich with my boys. Yum! The ice cream shop is also celebrating new premium flavors every month in 2010. Strawberry cheesecake was the Gold Cone flavor for May. I can't wait for June--chocolate peanut butter!

Food is definitely always one of the topics at the forefront of my mind, so of course when I approached the Bandai table the first thing I noticed was the Bandai Chocopot. I can't even link to it because it's not on the market yet! This kitchen tool for both boys and girls will be available Fall 2010. You can melt chocolate and use it like a fondue pot or use the chocolate and included molds to make your own chocolates! The heat source is so safe that it seems pretty impossible that you would accidentally burn your fingers. This will definitely be one of H's Christmas presents--shhh, don't tell him! I love it also because the name reminds me of Choco Pie, which is every Korean kid's lunchbox staple. Bandai gave me a gift bag of neat toys from popular kids programming that I was able to share with the kids in my Sunday School. Thanks Bandai!

I picked up some more toys for my boys from Backyard Safari Outfitters by Summit Toys! They are always picking up things outside so I knew they would love these toys that are designed to support a child's natural desire to explore and foster a love of science and the outdoors. One of H's favorites is the Backyard Safari Binoculars, which he has found very useful in spying on the neighbors in our condo complex. I'm not an outdoors person myself so I probably would not have known about these toys if I hadn't attended the lunch (they weren't on my radar so I might not have noticed the display at Toys R Us), but now I know what to recommend to mom friends who are outdoorsy types. 
You probably know by now we're a family of TV and movie-loving fools. I went to a magnet school for part of my childhood. We were bussed in from all over Chicago so my friends lived nowhere near me, which meant my best friend was the TV. If there had been Nickelodeon back then, I probably never would have left the house. As it is, whenever the boys and I are at home (one reason I try to go out whenever I can), we're probably watching Dora The Explorer, who is celebrating her tenth anniversary this year--I know, she doesn't look a day over seven. The boys were thrilled when I brought home Dora Explore the Earth DVD (Thanks Nickelodeon!) and forgave me for going to a party without them!
I put some of these fun items together in the beach bag provided by representative from Pottery Barn Kids, who were present with a new line of beach inspired designs, including the Shark Beach Wrap that is R's new favorite towel. My kids love to play at PBK (although the employees probably cringe whenever we walk into the store). It's one of those stores where I know I can go and shop and they won't try to run out of the store.
Then there were the companies with products for the moms. Pajama Jeans look like a pair of jeans but feel like pajamas. I just received a pair in the mail. They definitely live up to the hype and I will be wearing them all around town as soon as I get them hemmed. The gals from the Temptress cosmetics and skincare store in El Segundo gave me a mini-makeover. I've test-driven the 2011 Toyota Sienna so I was excited to see Toyota at the event. Dyson was also on hand with models of their upright and hand-held vacuums. I've been drooling over my friend's Dyson for some time now. This event confirmed it for me, as soon as my current vacuum dies, I'm getting a Dyson!
That day, I left R with a friend for the first time in his two years of life. He didn't cry or look for me once, which was a relief but also made me a little sad. But now I know he doesn't have separation anxiety and that he's probably ready to go to preschool in the fall. Thank you Child's Play, for hosting this awesome event for moms and providing the occasion for me to learn something new about my child! 
I did not receive compensation for this post. I did receive product samples for review purposes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!--Stewart helps Dockers Prove Chivalry is not Dead

This Mother's Day, the person I most appreciate is my husband. When you have two toddlers, it's really not possible for them to pamper you. Instead, they most likely drive you nuts. Well, at least mine do. No. 1 son nutty episode of the day, forgetting to wear shoes to church yet again. I am trying to teach him that it's his responsibility to make sure he has shoes on when he gets in the car. So far I haven't had much luck. No. 2 son nutty episode, crying for chocolate cake for half an hour after he woke up. He stopped immediately after I shoved a spoonful of egg and rice into his mouth. Sometimes, he just doesn't know what he wants. Which brings me back to my No. 1 Hunny-Stewart. He's been so supportive of my blogging and the recent late nights of moms nights out and blogging events--bathing and putting the kids to bed and playing with them while I write up posts like this one. He organized the Mother's Day Brunch at church today and didn't flinch when I said I wanted to eat out for lunch and dinner. I decided against dinner because the boys wanted me to cook! If you've tasted my cooking, you know that is very rare indeed.

Stewart has definitely been performing many acts of chivalry this week. He didn't even know that he was participating in the Dockers challenge to dads, moms, and kids across the country to Wear The Pants and perform acts of chivalry. This Mother's Day, Dockers wants men and women to take a few extra minutes to open a door, offer directions, help carry luggage, hail a cab, or say Happy Mother's Day to a mom you don't know (and don't forget about your own mom).

Dockers Wear The Pants

Dockers 10,000 Acts of Chivalry
On Mother's Day, from 10 am – 2 pm, 100 khaki-clad men will hit the streets of New York and San Francisco and perform 25 chivalrous acts per hour. If you live in San Francisco or New York City, come join them and help celebrate Mother's Day with chivalrous acts. The Mother's Day event in New York City will take place at Times Square, Bryant Park, and Broadway Matinee Shows. In San Francisco, the Docker's event will take place at Union Square, Ferry Building, and the Cow Hollow area.

Visit  to share posts and photos of how you're proving chivalry exists this Mother's Day. Those participating in Dockers® "10,000 Acts of Chivalry," can also show their support on Twitter by using the #chivalryisnotdead hashtag on this Mother's Day. I will be doing both to give props to my chivalrous hunk of love. Thanks Hunny!

I did not receive compensation for this post. Dockers will provide my readers a chance to win a pair of pants in a future giveaway.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

LA Moms Blog-College Prep

Read about the craziness I've started with H on the LA Moms Blog. And yes, there is a glaring typo in the second paragraph: