Thursday, May 26, 2011

Girl power - times two!

Kristin and Michelle
If you think I do a lot of stuff, you have to meet my friend Kristin from Tampa. She makes me look lazy. She works full time at a high stress job, but yet checks out concerts, sporting events and triathlons – plus, she still has time to watch every episode of Gossip Girls.

So when she called and told me she had a 12-hour stopover in Sacramento, I knew we were going to have fun. I’m talking Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz girl power fun – without the tons of money and the adoring fans.

Of course, before we went out, we had to do a quick 4 mile (she did 5 miles) run just to warm up and then it was time to hit the town.

For those who have been following my blog, don’t worry…I was a good girl and didn’t go off my training schedule. I kept to my no alcohol, no fattening food diet, which also meant I was the designated driver.

Michelle and Kristin’s Night of Fun:

1) Eat like Queen: A girl’s got to eat so we started with a light meal at Red Lotus. Love that place. You have to get the eel and shrimp dumplings if you go. They are soooo good. I got the lemon grass soup - also good and low in calories.

2) Be a Rock Star: We then wandered over to Blue Cue and discovered on Friday it’s karaoke night with a LIVE rock band. Whoo Hoo!!!

Yes, you get to sing with an actual band. Naturally, we had to do it. But what should we sing?

At first we considered “Hungry Like the Wolf” – until we realized we only knew the chorus. In the end, we belted out a really bad version of “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon.

No recording contracts for us.

3) Go Country: After being a Rock Star, it was time to get a little bit country at Bulls – where they have a mechanical bull in the middle of the bar. You know we HAD to try it, just because it was there and Kristin was certain the bull was sad no one was riding it.

4) See a Mermaid: Kristin and I have been friends for years, but I had no idea she always dreamed of being a mermaid. In fact, it’s her dream job, AND if she lived in Sacramento, she could apply for that job as Dive Bar has a girl dressed up as a mermaid who swims back and forth in big tank.

Kristin spent about an hour staring at her and wishing she was the mermaid. Maybe one day...

5) Hang with Queens: A night on the town is not complete unless you visit at least one gay bar. I’m not sure which one we went to, but it had great music and the bartender made Kristin a special fruity cocktail called a raspberry lemon drop. Her review? Five out of five stars.

6) Wind down with Munchies: Ink is a late night staple in Midtown Sacramento. They are known for their Mac and Cheese, egg sandwiches and ice cream brownies. They also serve food until 4 a.m. which is why we were there at 3 a.m.

With no place to sit, we shared a table with a bridal party. When Kristin asked the bride for her relationship advice, she said, “Don’t get mad if they aren’t perfect because you aren’t perfect either.”

Now that’s good advice.

7) Sleep - kind of: Our night of fun ended around 4:30 a.m. and by 7 a.m. Kristin was on her way to catch her plane back to Tampa.

I don't know how she did it, but she got home late in Tampa on Saturday night and then did the Dirty Double mud run early Sunday morning and came in second.  She might not be a mermaid, but she is a rock star when it comes to doing stuff.

Sigh…sometimes I miss my gal pals.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Keeping it real with Alejandro Reyes

News10 Blog U (I'm taking photos at the left)
Last year I did a psychic reading with Jesai Chantler over the phone. I’m not going to share the whole thing with you, but he did say he saw me attending the Oscars or the Emmy Awards or a similar red carpet event.

At the time, I thought he was way off base as none of my scripts were being turned into movies and I wasn’t dating any celebrities – so what were the chances?

It turned out that he was right. I did end up attending the Official Oscar Watch Gala for News10 in February and just a couple weeks ago I was nominated for an Emmy so will be going to the Emmy Awards in June. Amazing.


The other thing Jesai told me was that I was right where I was supposed to be and I was still on my true path. This surprised me as I had thought moving to Sacramento threw me off my path. Not that I don’t love it here. It’s pretty, relaxing and is surrounded by vineyards (and you know I love wine). It’s just that it’s not exactly Paris, London, New York or any other mega-city.

But just like he was right about me going to a red-carpeted event, he was right about being in Sacramento as I’m meeting remarkable people every day – or, as was the case last night, a whole group of remarkable people.

Last night I drove to Stockton to co-host our News10 Blog U event. It was small event of about 20 people but all were aspiring bloggers who were full of passion, energy and great ideas. There was Manuel who was thinking of doing a DUI electrician blog, Anthony who plans of unveiling his street fashion blog soon, Kyle who writes the, Kamica who owns Baby Cakes & Co… and so on. Each person had a unique story – and you know I love hearing about stories and dreams.

But the person who pulled it all together was Alejandro Reyes.


I met Alejandro Reyes my first day in Sacramento. Really. I got here and the News Director told me to go check out this TweetUp that was happening that night -- and among the hundred or so people that were there, I met Alejandro.

Apparently, Alejandro wasn’t just attending the TweetUp; it was his event. I learned months later that he was voted as one of 15 people to watch in Sacramento by Sacramento Magazine and was one of the city’s most respected social media gurus. See? I was in the right place at the right time.

And last night Alejandro brought that whole “being in the right place” message home.

While talking to attendees last night, he said, “Discover your gifts and build your life around them.”

Brilliant. So simple, but so right.

Instead of worrying about being in the wrong place, maybe I need to focus on the end goal. I don’t need to live in Paris or London to use my gifts. I can start using them here and see where my path takes me. Maybe meeting these remarkable people is why I’m here, as each week I find someone who keeps me inspired and moving toward completing my goals.

Discover your gifts and build your life around them…hmmm… I think I’m going to tell him he needs to make a magnet that says that.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

31 days and counting

It's just 31 days before my NPC competition in San Diego. Yes, I am counting down them down – but only because I was a little less dedicated during my first four weeks on being on the program than I should have been.

My trainer says you won’t see a lot of change in your body the first four weeks, but considering I have to be show-worthy in just a few weeks from now, I’m starting to worry. Although I'm really hoping she's right. Each morning I wake up hoping a miracle happened and my body finally realized that it needs to start showing results.

Alas, there have been no miracles.

So now I'm analyzing the last four weeks of training to see what I need to do to improve my results. Yes, I did workout every day in the last month -- except for a couple of days when I worked extra long days at the station and was too exhausted to go to the gym. My excuse? Sometimes you just have to put sleep first and start fresh the next day.

Yes, I did follow the daily meal plans – mostly. I admit that I did trade out a couple of the meals for frozen Weight Watcher dinners a couple of times to mix it up a bit. Probably not a good idea. I also had one bad binge day where I drank wine and ate onion rings. As you can imagine, this is a big no-no.

So now I’m being extra good and following everything on the plan exactly.

I even made all my meals for the week and put them in little containers so I could take them to work each day. And I bought a fashionable cooler bag that looks like a purse so I can carry all my cooked fish around without getting food poisoning.

For the next few weeks, I am determined to be dedicated.

I can do it. It’s only 31 days -and counting.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pancakes never tasted so good

After cycling in the Gold Country Century ride in Auburn on Saturday, there was only one thing I wanted. Pancakes. Light, fluffy, yummy, pancakes with maple syrup.

This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but because I’m still following my Bombshell Fitness meal/workout plan, I only get to have one cheat meal a week – which means I can’t eat all the food that I want, whenever I want it. This really sucks when you are a foodie like me.

Even my cheat meals are restricted to certain foods and certain portions because I guess they know that I would totally go over-board and eat everything I could in one meal if allowed. The good news is that pancakes are on my “acceptable” cheat meal list. But I’m are only allowed two (if Blogger would let me insert a sad face, it would be here.)

So on Saturday morning, I dragged my butt out of bed at 5:30 a.m., loaded my bike in the car and drove off to Auburn for the Gold Century ride. The whole time I wasn’t thinking about whether or not I would fall off my bike because of my stupid clips (still have not mastered them). I wasn’t thinking about how cold it was or whether it was going to rain on me. Nope. I was thinking about pancakes.

I biked up the 2300 feet of hills and covered 50 kilometers in 2.5 hours. It was hard work and it was cold...and windy. I hate biking in the wind. My legs were numb and I couldn’t feel my fingers. There were times towards the end when I was panting up hills and wondering if the top would ever arrive, but I made it -- all because I knew that when I crossed the finish line, I would get to have pancakes.

And they were good. Just check out the photo. Aren’t they drool-worthy?

I’m sure my fitness trainer would cringe if she saw this, but I figure if I only get to have one cheat meal a week, I’m going to have the best, most decadent pancakes I can find – and in my neighborhood, these magic pancakes are at Orphan in East Sacramento.

No, they don’t have whipped cream or chocolate sauce on them or anything really junkie, but they do have blackberries and bananas. And they are just sooooo good. I savored every bite.

I’m sure I looked a mess sitting there by myself, all sweaty and still in my biking outfit. I also had major bad hair because of the bike helmet, but I didn’t care. I was having pancakes – and I deserved them.

I was a little good (only because my fitness competition is 33 days away), and left a quarter of my pancakes behind as I figure they are probably a little bigger than the average pancake.

But man…they were delicious. I may have to get them for my cheat meal again next week.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Conquering one hill at a time on the Gold Country Century Ride

In January, I was asked to take part in the Amgen Celebrity Ride as part of the Gold Country Metric Century. I was excited that I would get the chance to cycle on the same route the Amgen Tour of California cyclists would ride on. I saw myself speeding over the hills of Auburn with the grace and elegance of the pro-cyclists.

The event was this past Saturday and while I wasn’t quite the Olympian I had thought I would be, a couple of the organizers told me I was probably the first woman to finish the ride. They said this was pretty good for a flatlander (that’s what the foothill cyclists call Sacramento dwellers). Whoo hoo!

Not that it was a timed race, but you know I’m a little competitive so I did pedal my heart out the whole time. AND I totally loved the ride.

The Gold Country Metric Century is perfect for both novice cyclists like me and more advanced riders. It took place in Sierra foothills by Auburn in California and riders had the choice of doing the full 100 kilometer ride with 4600 feet of climbing or the 50 kilometer ride with only 2300 feet of climbing. I took the 50 km one – but next year I might do the whole thing as it wasn’t as exhausting as I imagined it would be.

Sure there are hills. Um…actually, there are a lot of rolling hills, but the scenery is gorgeous. It’s all farmland, vineyards and trees. And the route takes you through Old Town Auburn and through a number of winding roads. It's lovely.

It’s also not crowded which a bonus.

In total there were about 200 of us doing the route instead of the thousands of people that have shown up at other century rides I’ve done. When you have thousands of people, it feels crowded and a little stressful – especially if you’re like me and tend to go really slow up the hills. I’m talking grandma-walker speed here. I swear, on the flat areas I’m cruising effortlessly at 18 to 20 mph, but as soon as there is a little hill, I’m down to 5 or 6 mph. Pathetic really.

Anyway, this ride only has a couple of hundred people so it’s peaceful and relaxing. You encounter enough people along the way to know you’re not alone, but never feel the pressure of having someone breathing down your neck. I was almost sad when it ended.

It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. Plus, all the proceeds from the event went towards the Auburn Community Cancer Endowment Fund.

So a win/win for everyone.

By the way, if you happen to be Auburn during Amgen (May 17), check out their other events.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

SacCycleChic - You go, girl!

As a writer, you often run into other writers. I don’t why that is. Somehow we attract each other and end up bonding over the woes of our craft. Maybe it’s because it’s an isolated art form, but just knowing there is someone else out there following their passion and struggling like you is what you need to stay focused.

One of my fellow bloggers and girlfriend did that just recently. Lorena is SacCycleChic and she blogs about cycling and fashion – together. It’s a niche market and she doesn’t just write about it. She lives it.

I met Lorena last year and she amazed me. She told me that when she started her blog, she gave up her car and now bikes everywhere. She writes about her passion and takes photos of others biking around in the city. She is an advocate for everything bike related, but also creates awareness of the fashionable bike trend with events such as her Velo & Vintage Fashion show that she had on May 7 and CycleChic Sundays where she takes fellow cyclists on free rides around the city.

Over the year, she's gone from someone I interviewed for a News10 story to friends who talk about everything ranging from writing to relationships. I’ve gotten to know her as an incredible, independent creative woman who puts a smile on my face whenever I see her biking around town.

But this January she got the writer blues.

If you’re an artist, you know what these are. It’s those moments when you start to doubt your passion. It’s the times when you think it would be easier to give up on your dream and take the easy route by getting a job that pays well (rather than one you love). It’s those moments of weakness when you wish you could go with the flow instead of feeling like a salmon whose swimming against the current.

Lorena had the blues and she had them bad.  She was thinking about giving up her freelancing life and settle down. Artist and design jobs were in short supply in Sacramento and she was worried her blog wasn’t going to be able support her. She had worked so hard to get where she was and yet, it wasn’t quite enough. She was even considering a job in San Francisco which would mean she would have to get (gasp) a car.

You can’t imagine how sad this made me. Here was my fashion-forward writing friend forced to alter her beliefs because of the economic situation of the area. I didn’t want her to give up on her dream – not only because I knew she would be unhappy, but because then maybe I would have to re-evaluate my own dream. I mean, if someone I watched work so hard with such dedication couldn’t make it, what made me think I could do it?

Thankfully, Lorena fought the writer blues and I’m so proud of her.

She's back to her fiesty SacCycleChic self and swimming against the current with even more determination. Her Velo and Vintage Fashion Show was just the beginning of the things she's going to do this year. She's got big plans and she's not giving up.  She may be barely over 5-feet tall, but she's got the drive of a giant and is an inspiration for all artists out there.

Watch out world…SacCycleChic is about to take you on and she’s going to look good doing it!

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Twitter for the Grim Reaper

Don’t think I’m morbid, but lately I’m finding myself reading the obituaries and being completely intrigued. I can’t help it. I love looking at the photos families have chosen of their loved ones, reading what these people did and wondering about their lives.

That’s because their orbits aren’t about their death, but telling the story of their life – in 200 words or less. It’s kind of like twitter for the Grim Reaper.

Sometimes the people I see become inspiration for characters in my stories and other times I just like to wonder about what they did during their lifetime.

Today I saw a woman who was born in 1919. She lived through women’s rights, a couple World Wars, the invention of TV and much more. I can’t help but wonder what other things she lived through. How many did people she love in her lifetime? Did she ever have her heart broken? What day was her “best” day? People never seem to mention these things in their obituaries.  Instead, it's always about numbers -- how many kids she had, how many years she lived and how many people will remember her.

Then there’s Lucy. It was her photo and her smile that drew me to her.

Lucy wasn’t in the orbits. Her photo was in the memorandums. All it said was she left them unexpectedly 35 years ago and they remember her laughing, having fun and going to wrestling. I look at her photo and I wonder was Lucy the wrestler or was it her husband, brother or child? And why was wrestling the thing mentioned in this message?

And most of all...I'm wondering why she died unexpectedly.  Was it a car crash? Cancer? Maybe she's not dead at all and just "left" them.

The orbits, like life, are a puzzle. You never know what they will reveal.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Has the Nook killed the public library?

There are always rumors that no one is going to libraries any more -- especially when you see more and more people downloading their reading to electronic devices like the iPad and the Nook. But has technology made checking out books obsolete?

As a writer and someone who still likes to read a novel the old fashion way -- by turning the pages, I was happy to learn this is not the case. In fact, there are a lot more people visiting libraries on a daily basis than I thought there were. Whoo hoo!!
I wasn't the only one wondering because this past October, the Yolo County Library joined libraries across the state n the California Library Association’s first “Snapshot: One Day in the Life of California Libraries” to highlight the importance of libraries to California. All participating libraries collected usage data, photos and patron testimonials on a given day to help the association capture data to create a compelling picture of library services in California.

“The results of this event provided valuable statistics for furthering library services in California,” said Yolo County Board of Supervisors Chair Matt Rexroad.

As participants in the Snapshot Day program, all seven Yolo County branch libraries collected and compiled customer comments, photographs and other data to chronicle a typical library day. Here are their results:
  • 4,555 people visiting the library
  •  The library’s website ( was accessed 796 times
  • 6,353 items were checkout or renewed
  • 359 reference questions were answered
  • 509 people used a library computer
  • 244 people attended 13 public programs
  • 47 people received tutoring and training
Amazing...I thought they would get a couple hundred visitors, but never imagined 4,500.

I guess I'm not the only one who likes to "hold" a good book.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happiness is fitting into last year’s shorts

The birds are singing, the air conditioning is on and the allergies I only have when I'm in Sacramento are in full force. There is only one thing left to do – get out the summer wear.

 I don’t know about you, but for some reason my winter clothes are all bulky and comfortable (and mostly black) while my summer clothes seem very small in comparison. Not that they are too short or revealing, although they do seem like that today as my legs are glow in the dark white and haven’t had UV rays on them for months. But no, I know my shorts and skirts are the correct length, it’s just that when I hold them up, they look like they may be a size too small.

After eating comfort food all winter long and hiding it under sweaters and long skirts, it’s time for Mother Nature’s own fitness test. Can I still fit in to last year’s shorts?
Sucking in my gut and trying them on before breakfast (yes, I cheated), I’m happy to say that they do fit. Yay!! They may not be as loose as they were last year, but I can sit down and still breathe.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Half price frappacinos and a new yummy flavor

I know I'm not the only Starbucks addict out there watching my pennies these days, so when I heard Starbucks was offering half price frappacinos from May 6 to 15, I had to spread the good news.

Here's how it works: Show up at your local Starbucks between 3 and 5 p.m. during those dates and order any one of their yummy frapacinos ranging from mocha and coffee to sweet treats like caramel and java chip.

Of course, all their Frappuccino blended beverages are completely customizable – you call all the shots, so you can create the perfect drink for your perfect summer day-- and if you want, you can even order them without the whip and with low fat milk to reduce the calories.

I have a weakness for their strawberries and creme (without the whip) made with soy milk. This is mainly because I like to pretend the soy milk makes it a protein drink and therefore, it's healthy for me.  I really know it's not, but when it comes to Starbucks, I put on a thick pair of rose colored glasses.

But I think there may be a new temptation this summer. I just learned Starbucks is releasing a Mocha Coconut and a Coconut Creme Frappuccino. I may have to try one of them (or both) -- when they are half price naturally!

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Who is Ginger Elizabeth?

If you don’t know Ginger Elizabeth, you’re about to get an introduction. She is the Sacramento chocolate goddess. This is because everything she touches is delightfully yummy (just look at that stuff in the window - I could eat one of each!!).

I first came across her chocolate masterpieces at the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay a couple of years ago – which some of you know is my escape place where I go on my hermit weekends. While there, I drink wine, write, stare at the waves…and eat chocolate. Ginger Elizabeth chocolate.

At the Ritz, you get Ginger’s chocolate (yes, she is a real person) at the end of your meal or if you order the chocolate wine pairing. And these chocolates are incredible. After you eat these, you’ll not only wonder why restaurants would bother giving out mints at the end of their meal and not chocolate, but you’ll also want to know where you can get more of these bite-sized goodies.

I know, I did. But in my crazy mind, I had assumed these special chocolates were only available at the Ritz—or some far away place like France or Switzerland. Little did I know I could get them in Sacramento. Who would have thought there would be incredible chocolate just blocks from my house? Amazing!!

I swear I did a little happy hop (and maybe let out a little squeal) when I walked past the Ginger Elizabeth store a couple of weeks ago on L Street -- and it was even better than I thought.

In addition to the chocolates I still dream of from the Ritz, she also has hot chocolate, cookies, cakes and other things that make a chocolate-lovers heart go pitter patter.

I haven’t actually met the chocolate goddess myself yet, but until I do, I will continue to worship her handmade treats.

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