Archives for April 20, 2015

The Tossed Diaries by Jennifer Coburn Special Guest Post

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There is a great deal I will never know about my Aunt Bernice because soon after her death, her son destroyed more than 75 years of her hand-written diaries. He dumped them in the incinerator in Bernice’s condo, where I had often tossed garbage bags filled with her empty mayonnaise jars and Weight Watchers snack wrappers.

What I do know about my aunt is this: she died shortly after her ritual midnight snack, this time half a rib eye steak and mashed potatoes left over from dinner at Smith and Wollensky. Her son told me that when he came to pick her up for breakfast the next morning, Bernice had already passed away. The leftovers from her last meal were missing from the fridge, a single plate and silverware setting in the dishwasher.


Bernice had been an unusual 90-year-old hospice patient, and her exit from life served as a fitting metaphor for how she lived it: enjoying every last bite. We spoke by phone earlier that day and in her thick New York accent, she said her doctors were crazy. “End of life heart disease?” she scoffed. “I feel marvelous.”


Bernice and I often talked about how I would inherit her diaries when she died. We shared a love of contemporary art, high-fat food, and writing. I told her I wanted to write a book about her, which she said would be a total bore except for the part about the pilot that invited her to take a Jell-O bath. Or the time an ex-fiancé sued her for keeping his lavish gifts after she dumped him. And there was the mix-up with that art gallery owner that allowed her to acquire a Salvador Dalí sculpture at a fraction of its value.


Bernice told sepia-toned stories of her childhood in Brooklyn in the 1930s, complete with details of her neighbors’ cloche hats and shabby furs. I always imagined her with a fountain pen, scratching out stories about her past: how her father lost his coat factory in a dice game with a guy with a gangster name like Skinny Carmine or about how her parents planned to stage their economic comeback by running card games from their Coney Island apartment.


By the time Bernice was a teenager, the nonstop topic of conversation at home was about how her Jewish family would survive if Adolf Hitler crossed the Atlantic Ocean and came to the United States. My grandparents’ plan for Bernice was for her to be hidden in a convent. She could pass as gentile, the nuns there said. The German family living in the apartment downstairs would adopt my father, an infant at the time. Bernice’s younger sister Rita had polio, so there was little hope for her.


Bernice wasn’t all nostalgic remembrances; she opined on contemporary issues too. She thought Sheryl Sandberg – or Sandersberger as she called her – was meshugenah with her “lean in nonsense.” Bernice said when she was a young woman, she called in sick to work every Friday. “Today Goldsmith Jewelers is out of business and I’m 90 years old with a beautiful life,” she said. “So who do you think had the right idea?”


More than the storyline of Bernice’s life, I was interested in how she had remained incredibly centered and positive in the face of a fair amount of prejudice and hardship throughout her long life.

Ten years before she died, Bernice had a stroke. “A mini,” she called it. On the phone from the county hospital, Bernice told me her room was lovely and that a gorgeous bud vase sat on a table beside her bed. When she mentioned this to the nurse, she found a red carnation in the vase the next morning. “Aren’t people marvelous?” she mused.


When I found out my aunt had died, I took some comfort knowing I would revisit familiar stories, and gain deeper perspective on her life through her diaries. Her son said he threw them away because not all of her memories were happy ones. Of course that is exactly why her writings would have been so precious to me. Like all of us, Bernice’s life was filled with emotional complexity and conflicting desire. Yet she always managed to experience the profound joy and goodness in the world.


Bernice’s son may have felt ambivalence over my reading his mother’s private thoughts, but I know Bernice would have shared them freely with me. During our last visit together, my aunt asked me to read aloud to her from one of her diaries. When I asked which volume I should select, she replied, “Surprise me.” Bernice was not a person with dark secrets. She was a wise old woman from whom I could have learned a lot.


I wish I could have piled the diaries on my bedside table and leafed through every page, hopeful that I might discover Bernice’s greatest secret – how to live life fully, and yet always have room for leftovers.


Guest post by Jennifer Coburn, the author of We’ll Always Have Paris: a Mother-Daughter Adventure. Find her book on

PBS KIDS announces first-ever online world Kart Kingdom! Kart Kingdom features a new junior edition of E-line Media’s Gamestar Mechanic, which enables kids to create and share their own video games


PBS KIDS recently announced the launch of Kart Kingdom, the children’s media brand’s first-ever online world. Now available at, Kart Kingdom features a collection of fun, curriculum-based games that help kids ages 6-9 learn systems thinking skills. The game also helps children build collaboration skills as they work together to create gadgets and unlock rewards for the entire Kart Kingdom community. In another first, PBS KIDS’ Kart Kingdom features a new junior edition of E-line Media’s Gamestar Mechanic, which allows kids to create, play and share their own digital games. PBS stations will bring Kart Kingdom into the community with live game events across the U.S. starting this spring.

As kids navigate Kart Kingdom, they complete quests in their customized karts, gathering resources along the way that enable them to craft gadgets that help them further explore the world. Throughout the experience, players collaborate to craft new items for their avatars and karts and to complete community events that unlock new rewards for all participants. As part of the adventure, kids can also play games with characters from their favorite PBS KIDS series, including WILD KRATTS and THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT! With Kart Kingdom’s Gamestar Mechanic Jr. game, young learners have the chance to create their own video games, which other kids can play.

“We wanted to make sure that our first online world was true to the PBS KIDS mission and built to put 6-9 year olds in the driver’s seat,” said Sara DeWitt, Vice President, PBS KIDS Digital. “Kart Kingdom is unique in that it focuses on creation, collaboration and exploration – not just on buying and selling, like many other immersive games for this age group. The world offers kids a safe, developmentally appropriate space to explore, build and interact, all while developing critical 21st-century skills.”

Developed by PBS KIDS with curriculum advisors from Arizona State University’s Center for Games and Impact and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Kart Kingdom helps kids develop systems thinking skills, which are essential to solving complex problems that affect all areas of their lives. Systems thinking skills enable kids to realize the connections and interactions between elements that compose a whole system, and to strategize about how they would optimize the system interactions to more effectively reach important goals.

“Kart Kingdom expands on public media’s commitment to finding innovative ways to engage children in learning anytime, anywhere,” said Debra Sanchez, Senior Vice President of Education, CPB.

“Educational online games that support exploration and skills like systems thinking can help kids understand how their actions and interactions can impact their environment,” said Sasha Barab, Professor and Executive Director, Center for Games and ImpactArizona State University. “Kart Kingdom’s curriculum-based games help kids to engage and collaborate, and use critical thinking skills as they quest and craft their way through an innovative online world.”

PBS stations will bring Kart Kingdom to life with events based on the game’s curricular focus in communities across the country later this year. Designed to help kids build systems thinking skills, the station events will feature live games that kids can play together and that can be customized for each local community.

Kart Kingdom is currently available as a browser-based game and will be available for iPad and Android tablets this summer.

Kart Kingdom Highlights

Personalization: Players can customize their avatars and karts at the “parts booth.” As players complete quests and play games, they earn more options to choose from.

Social Spaces: Kart Kingdom includes four environments to explore – “The Deep,” “Grand Glade,” “Bug Garden” and “Mount Snow.” Within each area, there is a social space, where players can see and interact with each other using a safe, preset chat system. Kids are also encouraged to take part in activities that model collaborative online behavior, such as crafting karts, kart parts and gadgets together and community events that require multiple users to work together to earn rewards.
Quests & Crafting: Kart Kingdom players are given quests to search for objects and animals connected to the world. Quests take place in large exploratory areas based on real-world places such as forests, oceans and a child’s own backyard. To complete quests, players must use items they find and earn to craft “Kart Gadgets” that allow them to reach new places and overcome challenges.

Educational Games From PBS KIDS Shows: Kids can play games from their favorite PBS KIDS series, including WILD KRATTS, THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!, FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB and PLUM LANDING.

Gamestar Mechanic Jr.: Produced by E-line Media, Gamestar Mechanic Jr. helps kids learn the principles of game design and problem solving through an exciting adventure game. As kids progress through Gamestar Mechanic Jr. quests, they earn “sprites” that enable them to design and publish their own games. The game also features a vibrant community called “Game Alley” where players can publish, play and provide feedback on games designed by other players. Gamestar Mechanic Jr. is based on the award-winning Gamestar Mechanic, which has been used by over 700,000 youth to make over a million original games.

Credit: PBS KIDS.

For Every Book We Sell During Autism Awareness Month, AAPC Will Donate a Book


With an estimated three million individuals in the United States living with autism today, AAPC Publishing is committed to offering practical resources to support families, individuals on the spectrum as well as educators and other professionals.

To help inform and spread awareness about ASD, during the month of April, for every book we sell, AAPC Publishing will be donating a book to autism lending libraries and national autism organizations.

“We are very excited to receive book donations from AAPC Publishing! Their books have always been at the forefront of autism resources. Because they have supported families on a local, national and international scale, I know their donations will be great supports for our organization.”

-Jennifer Smith

Executive Director, Autism Society – The


AAPC Publishing sincerely cares about offering affordable, easy-to-use resources for families and educators. The practical and research-based ideas and strategies found AAPC Publishing’s books help motivate students who exhibit challenging behavior, ultimately, aiding in their success.

In addition to donating books in celebration of Autism Awareness Month, AAPC Publishing will also offer free shipping on all orders placed on AAPC Publishing’s online bookstore ( throughout the month of April.

About AAPC:

Established in 1999, AAPC Publishing specializes in providing mainstream, hands-on knowledge to individuals, families, educators and other professionals regarding topics related to autism spectrum disorders. We are a proud provider of quality resources that offer evidence-based solutions at affordable prices.

Credit: AAPC Publishing.

UCI Announces Festival of Discovery Honoring Its 50th Anniversary New festival offers community a first-of-its-kind experience of the campus

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UC Irvine’s Festival of Discovery, a new interactive event open to the community, will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. The first-year festival provides an opportunity for visitors to experience educational, hands-on displays highlighting the solution-based work addressing global problems and staging UCI’s arts and cultural contributions.


As the centerpiece of the university’s 50th anniversary celebration, the Festival of Discovery is designed to showcase how UCI researchers are working to solve global challenges in energy, healthcare and medicine and more. A special “Discovery Pass” will grant visitors access into discovery pavilions, each highlighting a different interdisciplinary theme: Health + Wellness, Ingenuity + Innovation, Local + Global Impact and Arts + Culture.


The festival will kick off with the Anteater 5k and Family Fun Run/Walk at 8 a.m.  Participants will “run through the decades” with deejays playing music and themed décor of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and today.  The course will finish at the Festival of Discovery event site in Aldrich Park at the heart of the campus.


The festival will also offer athletic clinics and activities, gourmet food trucks, a digital lounge, student and community performances and live music suitable for all ages.


Festival of Discovery is a free event. Registration for the Anteater 5k and Family Fun Run/Walk will open May 1. For more information visit

Credit: UC Irvine’s Festival of Discovery.

Crawl Over to the Diaper Derby at The Shops at Montebello on April 25 Event for parents, infants and friends to see who has the fastest crawler in town and to get the latest on special family services and more

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Crawlers, start your engines! The Shops at Montebello invites the area’s cutest babies to crawl their way to victory at its second-annual Diaper Derby on Saturday, April 25, from11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Center Court.


The Diaper Derby is a series of crawling races on a soft, sanitized surface, and is open to all babies less than 12 months old who are not yet walking. Proud family members and friends are invited to cheer on the babies in each of the three heats of six babies each.


The top crawler from each of the three races will compete for prizes in the final race. The fastest crawler will receive a 1st place prize of a $100 gift card to Baby GAP, the 2nd place racer will win a $75 gift card to the Children’s Place and 3rd place will earn a $50 gift card to Gymboree. All of the winners will also receive a shiny trophy as a memento of their little one’s victory.


Parents will try to motivate their children at the finish line, coaxing them to cross the line first with everything from the playing of instruments to holding a child’s favorite toy or teddy bear, and generally encouraging them along the way.

Mundo FOX Channel 22 entertainment reporter Melissa Martinez Romero is slated to emcee all the action.


“The Diaper Derby is such a fun community event, and a day well spent with family and loved ones at The Shops at Montebello,” said Marida Petitjean, director of marketing and business development at The Shops at Montebello.

Registration and participation in the event is free. To register, families can visit The Shops at Montebello’s Guest Services booth, located on the lower level near Macy’s Home. A maximum of 18 participants will be registered for the event, and all registered participants will receive a Graco diaper bag as a special gift from The Shops at Montebello on the day of the event.

Other enjoyable activities will include special offers, giveaways, prizes, a face painter, balloon artist, and lots of fun for the whole family. The event will also include retailer stations from The Body Shop, GAP, GNC, Hot Dog on a Stick, Wetzel’s Pretzels, JCPenney Portraits and The Children’s Place, with various displays, coupons, raffles and samples.

For more information, visit The Shops at Montebello on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at, or


About The Shops at Montebello

The Shops at Montebello is a modern indoor super regional shopping center featuring four department stores and more than 160 shops, eateries, and restaurants—remaining the leader for shopping in the San Gabriel Valley. The Shops at Montebello is home to Macy’s, jcpenney, Forever 21, Coach, G by Guess and more, with dining options such as BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery, Hikari Sushi, Marie Callender’s and Olive Garden. The Shops at Montebello serves communities in San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles including Montebello, Monterey Park, and Rosemead. With its modernized look and feel, The Shops at Montebello strives to provide the best shopping experience with its retailer and dining selections for the entire family.

Follow The Shops at Montebello on these social media channels:




About Simon

Simon is a global leader in retail real estate ownership, management and development and a S&P100 company (Simon Property Group, NYSE:SPG). Our industry-leading retail properties and investments across North America, Europe and Asia provide shopping experiences for millions of consumers every day and generate billions in annual retail sales. For more information, visit

Whole Foods Market Sets Opening Date for Playa Vista Store Announces details for Runway at Playa Vista location, engages local creatives, hosts community events


Last week Whole Foods Market announces Wednesday, June 17, 2015 as the opening date for the new 35,000-square-foot store at the Runway at Playa Vista located at the corner of Jefferson and McConnell in Playa Vista. Located as the anchor in a 3,500-unit residential development, the store address is 12746 Jefferson Blvd Playa Vista, CA 90094.


“We are excited that our newest store opening in Los Angeles will be in Playa Vista,” said Patrick Bradley, president, Whole Foods Market Southern Pacific Region. “This location in such a thriving creative, aware and engaged community is a great place for us to share all of Whole Foods Market’s wonderful offerings.”


The store will offer expansive social spaces designed to serve as extensions of the home and cultivate a uniquely connected community, including a full service bar, Astro Bar, multiple dining areas and seating to accommodate more than 150 people.  Other unique offerings will include home delivery to Playa Vista residents, a flexi card plan for local Loyola Marymount University students and seven levels of parking with more than 200 spaces.


As Whole Foods Market does in every community in which they open, they will partner with like-minded organizations to foster and support local non-profits, suppliers, businesses and residents to support community development.


To commemorate the opening, Whole Foods Market will host several upcoming events, including a reusable shopping bag design contest to engage the community’s creative businesses. The winning design will be sold at the Playa Vista store for a limited time and proceeds will go back to the winning organization’s non-profit of choice. For details on all upcoming events and activities, follow the store on Facebook here or @WFMPlayaVista on Instagram.


The Playa Vista store will bring more than 200 jobs to the area and be the first Whole Foods Market store opening in Los Angeles since 2008.


About Whole Foods Market®

Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market (, NASDAQ: WFM), is the leading natural and organic food retailer. As America’s first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market was named “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health magazine. The company’s motto, “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”™ captures its mission to ensure customer satisfaction and health, Team Member excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement. Thanks to the company’s more than 88,000 team members, Whole Foods Market has been ranked as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America by FORTUNE magazine for 17 consecutive years. In fiscal year 2014, the company had sales of more than $14 billion and currently has more than 405 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.


Credit: Whole Foods.

Balcony Pets Apartment Pet Door™ – Revolutionary must-have pet product!

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The Balcony Pets Apartment Pet Door™ will transform the way people let their pets out to enjoy the space outside of their apartment or house. With a dynamic presence on Amazon, the Balcony Pets Apartment Pet Door is easily accessible and delivered right to your home in no time.


How does the Balcony Pets Apartment Pet Door work? It’s so simple! Carry it into your apartment or house, set it up, snap it together, put it in place within the sliding glass door, and you’re done. Here’s a link directly to the website where there’s an instructional video available for viewing:

Self Disclosure: No compensation was received to post. For more information, check out the website listed above. Credit: Balcony Pets.