Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lucky Dogs and a Velveteen Rabbit

"Once you become real, you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

I thought of this beautiful and poignant message from the book The Velveteen Rabbit yesterday while getting ready to head out for the night.

First, to a launch party for my friend Heather Marianna's new line Lucky Luciano's Pet Products, and the other, to check out a new lounge, Velveteen Rabbit, founded by two Las Vegas sisters.

Karen Wendt, Heather Marianna, Anna Wendt

Heather's new pet product line is the second for her company, Beauty Kitchen, which she launched last year and was built from a love of creating home based beauty recipes. Her successful DIY videos have been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube.

The inspiration for her new pet line came from her dog Louie. On October 2nd 2012, Louie (Luciano) sat on death row at a kill shelter. With only a few hours to live, Adopt a Rescue pulled him from the shelter and placed him for adoption. Today Louie has a home, two Chihuahua brothers Coco and Baron and a wonderful mother Heather Marianna who transformed him from street dog to pampered pup.

Louie wanted to give back to the animal community and help raise awareness and funds to aid in the saving of animals like him. Working long hours in the Beauty Kitchen workshop Louie has created a pet Shampoo and a pet perfume with organic ingredients.

"As his mother, I wanted to create this line
to give back to the animal community,
 I could not imagine my life without
Louie, Coco and Baron." 

Heather Marianna

Lucky's Unisex Pet Perfume $ 18.95

Created by Beauty Kitchen (TM) this Botanically enriched luxury mist will leave your furry friends coat shiny, silky and smooth.

Between baths or after grooming, this fragrant spa-quality mist will neutralize odors, silken and soften and add an all natural shine to your pets coat! This is safe for kittens and puppies over eight weeks old! So cat lovers rejoice!

15% of ALL SALES of this product benefit Adopt A Rescue Pet (, the very organization that saved little Louie.

Papering Ingredients are as follows: Pure Roman Chamomile
Chamomile has a calming effect on animals and has done wonders for Louie's night tremors.

Some of the above content and story is an excerpt from 

Real and inviting....

After checking out Heather's enchanting event at Park on Fremont where the doggies were the true stars of the party, my sister and I headed over to a new and unique lounge founded by two sisters. Velveteen Rabbit is a cool, eclectic lair featuring original and classic cocktails as well as music and art. Shortly after arriving and ordering our drinks, we agreed this is the kind of place you can hang out for hours and lose track of time surrounded by artful ambiance and the melodies of perfect "chill". It's like hanging out at your super cool friend's house.....except you never have to leave...(or at least not until 2am)!

Pamela and Christina Dylag....Owners, Velveteen Rabbit. Photo source:

Check out their award winning cocktail, The Green Bitch!

Best New Cocktail, Green Bitch, Velveteen Rabbit...Photo: Vegas Seven

Photos of Lucky Luciano's Pet Product Line launch party by XIS Productions..Xzabko Scott is responsible for a vast number of professional fashion shows in Las Vegas.

Lucky Luciano's Pet Products Launch, Las Vegas, NV

Beauty Kitchen by Heather Marianna

Friday, July 12, 2013

Magical Thinking on Blue Nights...

It's a winter night in New York City and you are home with your husband John in front of the fireplace, drinking wine. For a few moments you go into the kitchen to get something and when you come out he is gone. Just like that, from cardiac arrest. Your golden years together are over and they had only just begun.

"Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant."  Joan Didion

During this your only child, your daughter Quintana is hospitalized in intensive care on the other side of the country. 

How do you survive this? If you are the writer Joan Didion, you write. First, about losing your husband and how the only way you can stay strong for your daughter is to sometimes just for awhile, for relief, pretend that he is not gone. Pretend that you are going to see him soon. His shoes are still by the door. He is just away.

It's called magical thinking and it keeps you together as long as it has to so that you can survive moment by moment and let this new reality sink in while hoping your daughter will survive.

Tragically, she doesn't. Two years later she dies after as much time hospitalized. You again do the only thing that will keep your heart beating in your chest. Write about it. A tribute to motherhood and a recollection of your life. An understanding of who you are now and what your journey has meant.

"The Year of Magical Thinking" and "Blue Nights" are two of the best books I've ever read. I read them before I'd lost anyone, if I were to experience them again I would probably understand them even better now that I have lost my mother.

"Time is the school in which we learn"....Joan Didion 

Joan Didion has been writing for over 50 years and has published many books. She was a liberated woman before there was even a term for it, but she was also a wife and mother, every bit all three.

I learned from Joan's books that a little "magical thinking" is okay once in awhile if you are aware you're doing it and using it to heal and regain your strength.

There is also another message that Joan conveyed so well to readers from her book "Blue Nights".

She explains page after page of one chapter what it is really like to grow old. From the inside out. She makes it real and takes you inside her experience. It will happen to me, and to all women...she never thought it would happen to her, not really, and certainly not like everyone else! While many find this unsettling it is in an equal way, helpful. Becoming old is the price we pay for a long life. It can be painful, like childbirth, but "everything worth something comes with a price", to quote Joan herself.

What reminded me of her work is that earlier this month Ms. Didion was awarded a National Medal of Arts along with several others such as George Lucas, Elaine May, Tony Kushner, Renee Fleming, and Herb Alpert, to name a few.

Joan Didion, recipient for National Medal of Arts for her mastery of style in writing. Exploring the culture around us and exposing the depths of sorrow, Ms. Didion has produced works of startling honesty and fierce intellect, rendered personal stories universal, and illuminated the seemingly peripheral details that are central to our lives.
A young Joan Didion

"The Year of Magical Thinking" was adapted into a Broadway play with Vanessa Redgrave portraying Joan Didion.


Joan Didion's Wikipedia page

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Comedians in cars getting coffee...

"Comedy is the closest thing to justice. 
If you're funny you survive. If you're not, you don't."
 -Jerry Seinfeld

Classic cars, comedians, and coffee. Where can you go wrong? Actually, I should call this article...."Comedians in cars making me skinny"...because this show has helped me pass many hours on the treadmill. I discovered it while looking for something to watch on my iPad while propping it up on one of the various sweat machines at the gym.

Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld,

Jerry Seinfeld picks up one of his famous funny friends in one of his many classics cars from his collection, and takes him or her out to coffee for simple conversations over hot java. Comedians are most enjoyable to me this way because they are unrehearsed and just observing life, living, saying whatever comes to mind at the moment. Although I'm sure some editing has been done the format just feels real. Whether he's picking up David Letterman in a souped up station wagon, Ricky Gervais in an Austin Healey, Carl Reiner in a Rolls Royce, or Sarah Silverman in a Jaguar, it's the best of the best 11 to 17 minutes I watch online. They hang out, chat, and stuff their faces at coffee shops in New York and L.A. and diners such as Nate & Al's, Jerry's Deli, the local donut shop, and even a convenience store.

Seinfeld is one of the few people in the business who can call a legendary comedian and get a "yes" without even asking the question first! He hasn't done an episode yet in Vegas as far as I know but I hope he does...we have plenty of great comedians here.
This golden nugget airs on and is one of 19 of their original series. I have found Crackle to be a great site for watching free instant episodes of TV shows, movies and other media. 

 David Letterman..."Being an older parent, I know when it comes to the heavy stuff I'll be dead by then."
Jerry ......"You don't know that." 
David....."I don't know that, but sometimes it's useful."

This is not a sponsored article. Photos by

Monday, July 1, 2013

The GIFT of FITness

It was July 1, 2008 and after a particularly stressful spring I had not worked out for several months. As a result I had gained fact I weighed more than I ever had. At my height I don't have a lot of room for extra pounds and when I get out of shape it effects a lot of things in my life, like it does most people.

June of "chubby summer"
So, that day as I got on the treadmill at the gym I made a sincere promise to myself. From that day forward for the rest of my life I would work out regularly. At least 3 times a week, minimum. No gaps. No stops and starts, not from my schedule or stress, or just plain lame excuses. Unlike some people, I am not an exercise or sports buff by nature.  I absolutely hate to sweat and get dirty, so this was a commitment to myself not easily made.

Like a lot of people I had gone through many phases of my adult life working out and doing great and then something would happen and I would stop for a few months and get out of shape. It doesn't take long for it to happen to me. I knew I couldn't keep doing that because with every passing year it got harder...I couldn't just work out for two weeks and lose 5 lbs like I used to. It's not worth "getting off the horse", it's just too hard to get back on! Plus, like what happened in the spring of 2008, gaining weight just added to whatever problem(s) I had to deal with at that time, when exercising regularly would not have been very hard and would have done me a lot of good.

October 2012 American Heart Association 5k

So, here it is, my 5 year anniversary of this promise! I have kept it. I lost a month to pneumonia in 2011, and a week off here and there over the past five years for particularly busy or stressful times, but I HAVE kept it...and it feels good. The promise has been bigger than my mood that day, my physical energy level, or my schedule. I have to keep that promise. So I do. It has not been about vanity as much as health and consistency. Of course I wish I was more "fit", but by dropping that ideal version of myself I have found true health. Have even run a few 5k and 10k's and learned to swim better than I ever have before. I noticed from a recent physical and blood test that all my numbers are risk factors. Not one moment that I have spent exercising has been wasted!

The video below was sent to me by my sister in law, Anita. It reminds me that the ability to exercise regularly is a GIFT, not a burden. The larger message is that consistency and day to day action, however small, can add up to a whole lot! This is a disabled ex-paratrooper who spent one year doing yoga and changed his life, it's worth watching....

Disable Ex-Paratrooper's Amazing transformation...YouTube