Monthly Archives: December 2013

Looking Back At 2013 (or Where Did The Year Go?)

I can’t believe it’s the last day of 2013! As the title says, where did the year go? I know that when I was little my mom joked how time moved faster the older you got, but this is ridiculous!

2013 was a year of highs and lows. I wanted to look back today at the year starting with my goals that I posted a year ago.

My goals that I had for 2013 were to continue on my weight loss journey, continue paying down my debt, do 5 5Ks, do my first 10K, find alternative income, take an improv class, and keep blogging.

I did continue on my weight loss journey. I’m not as far as I would like to be, but I’m going in the right direction. While I did pay down my debt, I also spent on that credit card which didn’t allow me to pay off as much as I could have (I need to work on that). I did 9 5Ks this year. But I didn’t do a 10K. And I don’t know if I ever will do one. But coming to that realization was a big step for me. I looked for alternative income and haven’t found it yet. But I’m getting closer to finding what else I can do that fits into my schedule. And sadly I didn’t get around to taking that improv class. But I was looking at the schedule for 2014 and I’m trying to decide which day the class would be best for me. And as you all know, I’ve been blogging 5 days a week every week (and plan to continue that).

While I didn’t accomplish all the goals I had, the lessons I learned about those goals and what I really want was much more important to me.

This past year had some amazing highs and some very low lows.

The big lows for me include my mom finding out that she has breast cancer. But she is over 1/2 done with this second chemo and is doing amazing. We have high hopes that she will be declared cancer free at the end of treatment and this will just be a memory for us. Also, the losses of Dante and Chaucer were very tough for me. I don’t know anyone who could go through losing 2 dogs in 6 days without having a breakdown. While I still am very sad about these losses, I’m able to share what happened without crying now.

One of the highs for my family was my brother’s wedding in September. It was a great event and the first family vacation my immediate family has gone on in a long time. And for me, a huge high was discovering SoulCycle and how much I love the class! I never thought I could love a workout like this and since it is low-impact, it is good for my hips.

It’s tough sometimes to focus on the positives that 2013 had since it is ending with a lot of sadness. But I know that 2014 will be a better year and I look forward to all the great things that are in store for me!

Tomorrow, I’ll share my goals for 2014!

Breakfast Bread Pudding (or Another Delicious Recipe!)

When I went home for the few days around Christmas, I had decided that I wanted to make a special breakfast for Christmas morning. Even though we don’t celebrate Christmas, I figured it was a good excuse to make something fun.

Originally, I had thought that I’d make overnight french toast. But then a few days before my trip, there was a potluck lunch at my day job. And one of my co-workers made this savory bread pudding. And as soon as I had it, I knew that it was going to be our Christmas breakfast.

Bacon And Egg Bread Pudding (modified from A Good Appetite)

What You Need:

6 Slices of Bacon, Chopped

4 Cups of Bread (we used Challah), Cut Into 1/2″ Cubes

8 Eggs

1 Cup Milk (we used 2%)

3oz Grated Cheddar Cheese

Salt and Pepper

What To Do:

Cook bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towel and set aside until cool.

In a bowl mix cooled bacon, bread, and about 1oz of the cheese. Pour dry mixture into 8×8 baking dish (sprayed with Pam or greased with butter).

Wisk eggs and milk together and add salt and pepper. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture. Mix to ensure even coating on bread.

Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Let sit for at least 30 minutes. What we did was make this the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

When ready to bake, heat over to 375.

Bake about 40 minutes or until it is puffed up and the top is golden.

Serves 4


This was very yummy! Even though when we made it it was only a few hours after Chaucer’s passing, it helped to make the morning a bit better. There were only 3 of us eating that morning, so my dad saved some for leftovers. He had it a few days later and reported back to me that it was still delicious!

I’m definitely making this again. But I think that I would add some veggies into it. Maybe some mushroom or peppers. While it tasted great, it needed some more color.

If any of you are looking for a fun New Year’s breakfast that you can make ahead of time, I highly recommend this!

What Also Happened On Christmas (or Our Sweet Chaucer)

While I try to be completely honest all the time on here, there are some things that I can’t share right away.

While I did a recap of my Christmas, you might have noticed that there was no mention of our new puppy Chaucer.

We picked up Chaucer on Sunday. He seemed absolutely perfect. The only thing was his neutering site was a little infected (he had licked at it and the incision opened up). We were told that he would be fine and that the incision was re-glued. When we brought him home, he was a wonderfully squirmy puppy. He did everything a puppy should do. He ate like a pig, cried when we put him in the kennel or “gated community”, and just wanted to be loved on and cuddled.

Monday was pretty much the same as Sunday. He did all the usual puppy things. We worked on training with him and was so pleased to see that he already knew some of his commands and was even very close to being potty trained. We showed him off to lots of our neighbors and friends that day.

Tuesday morning things changed. Chaucer vomited and refused to eat. He also seemed very lethargic. We rushed him to the vet that my family has used for decades and the vet didn’t seem too concerned. This vet wasn’t the usual vet that our dogs have seen, but she was the only one there so we saw her. The vet said that he might just have a stomach bug and that would explain the vomiting and refusing to eat. His blood sugar was extremely low so they gave him fluids and glucose to perk him up. He didn’t perk up right away, but we were told to give things time. We were also given medicine to help with the nausea and the infection at the neutering site (which didn’t really seem that big of a deal to the vet).

All day Tuesday we fed him baby food and water (what the vet told us to do). We fed him every 90 minutes. He was still going to the bathroom so we figured we were doing what he needed. In the evening he started to perk up so we thought maybe he was getting better.

Then early on Christmas morning, my parents heard Chaucer making noise in this kennel. They thought he needed to go out to potty, so they got him and took him outside. He was having  grand mal seizure. Thinking it was related to the blood sugar issue, my parents fed him maple syrup. They woke me up to tell me that they were rushing Chaucer to the emergency vet. While my mom was driving, Chaucer had another seizure and died in my dad’s arms.

When my parents took his body to the vet yesterday so he could be buried, the vet believed that he had sepsis due to the infection from being neutered. There was nothing else we could have done to save him. The infection was there when we got him and it was probably too far along. His little body couldn’t fight it.

We are all so devastated that this happened. We spent a lot of Christmas in total shock. It almost didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel like we ever had Chaucer.

I wish I could write an obituary for him like I did for Dante, but sadly we were just getting to know Chaucer when he died.

What I can tell you is that Chaucer was such a sweet dog. He was loving and greeted pretty much everyone we introduced him to with a kiss. He was also unbelievably smart. For only being 8 weeks old, he already knew commands and how to listen. And he picked up where in the backyard to go potty on his first day home.

Chaucer had his whole life ahead of him, and I know that he would have been an amazing dog. There’s no doubt in my mind about it.

My parents aren’t sure when they’ll get another dog now. They do want to add a dog to the family, but this hit them so hard that they are being very cautious. They want to make sure that the next dog is as healthy as can be.

Some people have asked me if they can do anything for Dante’s memory. If you would like to do something in honor of Dante and now Chaucer, you can donate to Pound Puppy Rescues. They are the organization that rescued Chaucer and all his puppy siblings from a dog hoarder. They foster all the dogs in homes so they don’t have to go to shelters. I know that any donations made there will go to make sure that all dogs find wonderful forever homes.

And hopefully soon, my family will find our forever dog.


3 Cities 1 Day (or My Christmas Adventure)

Christmas ended up being a pretty busy day for me and my family. First, we had a nice breakfast at home. I made a bacon and cheese bread pudding (I’ll post the recipe soon) and it was delicious.

Then we headed up to San Francisco to see my brother, sister-in-law, and sister-in-law’s family. My brother and sister-in-law live about an hour away from my parents but since there was no traffic, we got there pretty quickly.

While my family doesn’t really celebrate Christmas, my sister-in-law’s family does. So we did give gifts to each other. I had already given my parents their gifts when they visited me for lunch, but I brought my brother and sister-in-law’s gifts with me. I got them each a SoulCycle gift card good for their first class (and shoe rental). SoulCycle just opened up a studio about 6 blocks away from their house. So I figured it would be something awesome to share with them. And they seemed to like it!

I got some gifts too! My brother and sister-in-law got me a SodaStream (it’s being shipped to my house and I should have it in a week). I’ve been wanting one for a while. Even though I haven’t had a soda in almost a year, I do enjoy sparkling water. But it gets expensive to keep buying them at the grocery store. So I’m excited to be able to make it at home soon! And my sister-in-law’s parents got me a really nice scented candle (I felt bad because I didn’t get them anything).

After presents, we took a walk down to the marina. It was a gorgeous day in San Francisco and was surprisingly warm.

IMG_2376 IMG_2375

Before we knew it, we had to head home so I could catch my flight back to LA. We said goodbye to everyone and my parents and I started the drive back. We had just enough time to stop at my parents’ house for me to get all my stuff ready before I headed to the airport.

The airport and my flight were pretty crowded. I expected it to be empty since it was Christmas, but maybe that’s what everyone else thought too.

My flight was fine. I’m having an easier time flying now because I can keep myself distracted with my podcasts or e-reader during takeoff and landing (I’m so glad the ban on electronics during those parts of the flight ended).

Once I landed at LAX, I headed home in a cab and ordered some delivery Chinese food for dinner (it’s a Jewish tradition) while in the cab. Fortunately, the cab and I beat the delivery driver home, so the timing worked out perfectly.

I spent the rest of the evening enjoying my dinner and catching up on my DVR.

Overall, it was a pretty exciting day for me. Lots of fun and family and maybe we started some new traditions as well.

Welcome Chaucer (or The Fluffy Puppy Has Arrived)

I hope that you are all having a great Christmas. My family doesn’t really celebrate Christmas, but I will do a recap of my day soon.

So I flew in to see my parents on Saturday and on Sunday it was puppy day! We had to drive to a store about 30 minutes away to pick up Chaucer (that’s where the foster mom was meeting us and the other families).

We got there super early (because we were so excited) so we walked around the store and looked at all the cute puppy stuff. I really wanted to get Chaucer a sweater or coat because he’ll be going to the snow soon, but whatever we get him he’ll probably outgrow in a few weeks.

Finally, we saw Chaucer’s foster mom and she brought the newest member of the Levin family over to us.


Even though he doesn’t look as much like a weasel as he did in his baby picture (my mom’s words, not mine), he is still ridiculously cute! And super fluffy!

And in case you are wondering, the neck pillow looking thing is so Chaucer can’t lick at the incision site from where he was neutered. He licked at it the first day and it opened up, so he has to wear the “donut of shame” until it’s all healed. But we all think that the donut looks way better than a cone and the pattern actually looks very cute on him.

I played official photographer so there aren’t any pictures of me and Chaucer yet. But I sure got a bunch of my parents with him!


My parents borrowed a crate for Chaucer (they want to try to crate-train him), so we put him in that for the ride home and he fell asleep after about 5 minutes of screaming like crazy.


We got him home and started to work on potty training him. He has picked up where his potty area is in the backyard and has only had one minor accident so far. We aren’t saying that he’s potty trained yet, but we think that he will pick it up pretty quickly.

Since Chaucer hasn’t gotten all of his shots yet, he can’t go for walks outside of our home (parvo is very contagious and fatal and he needs to get vaccinated against it in about a week). But one of the pet therapy volunteers let my mom borrow this dog sling and we took Chaucer for a quick walk around the neighborhood.


After our walk, we put him on his leash in our front yard. Chaucer’s foster mom is a dog trainer and she worked on some commands with the puppies before they were adopted out. So when we got Chaucer he already knew “come” and “sit”. So we practiced his commands with him.


We also have a lot set up in the house for him. Besides the kennel that we used to bring him home (which is his bed in my parents’ room), we have a play pen set up for him in the family room. I decided to call it his “gated community” and he seems to like it.


We definitely tired him out with all the adventures we did on his first day. He seems to be happy and hopefully he knows now that we are his forever family.

Home Again (or Missing Dante)

First of all, before I get into today’s blog, a quick update. I didn’t get the job I thought I was going to get. So I’m staying at my current job for right now. I just hope that it stays better for a while.

I flew to Northern California to see my parents this past Saturday after my work shift. While I was nervous as usual to fly, I was also scared about how I’d feel going into a house without Dante there.

When my dad came to the airport to pick me up, it was fine. I’m used to him getting me without Dante (or my mom). But when we got home, it got a bit weird.

There was no Dante at the door to greet me. I didn’t hear his collar jangling or him drinking water like crazy (he had an issue where he always would drink bowls of water without stopping). There was no dog to snuggle with while I was reading. And there was no dog coming down the stairs in the morning, nosing open the guest room door, and waking me up.

I know that it’s been much worse for my parents. They were here with him 24/7 and now he’s gone. And yes, there has been crying (I’m tearing up as I write this). But we’ve been trying to think of all the happy memories of Dante and the amazing almost 13 years that we had with him (I can’t believe that we had Dante for close to half my lifetime!).

I’ve also had been saying that we need to focus on making sure that we bring Chaucer into a happy home, not a sad home. We need to focus on the excitement of bring Chaucer into the family. And I know it’s a lot of pressure to put on a little puppy, but this dog is exactly what my family needs. We need a distraction. We need some positivity in our lives. We need something silly to laugh at.

As I write this, we do have Chaucer home. I’ll write more about that tomorrow. But I will say that in the day that we’ve had him, he’s done exactly what we needed and more.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go? (or More Day Job Issues)

Ever since it got really bad with the co-worker who doesn’t like me at my day job, I’ve been looking for a new job. I’ve been applying for things pretty much on a daily basis, I’ve had a few interviews, and even a job offer (but that job had lied about how much they pay so I didn’t take it).

There’s one job that I’ve been in the running for a while. I’ve done some phone interviews, a writing test, and finally an in-person interview this past week. I should find out if I get the job this week.

But something has happened at my current day job that is making me think twice about leaving.

Last week on Thursday, the co-worker who doesn’t like me said something nasty to me. She didn’t realize it, but our boss was standing right behind her. He asked her what she said, and she chose not to repeat it. He asked her to leave work that day and she hasn’t been back.

This was the first time in a long time that my boss has heard the things this co-worker says to me (and the first time he heard it after he warned her that that was unacceptable). Even though he has believed me when I said that this was going on, it’s one thing to hear about it and another to actually witness it.

After the co-worker had left for the day, there was a different energy in the room. I actually was starting to enjoy my job again. It’s hard to judge how I felt that day because in the middle of the shift was when I found out about Dante passing away and I spent the last 4 hours of my shift trying to work and not cry (my boss said I could leave for the day but I needed to make money).

If this co-worker isn’t at work anymore, I might actually start to enjoy my job again. I do like working for a theater (they understand that I have auditions and that I need to leave sometimes randomly for them). I also like the other people who I work with.

I’m going to wait and see if I get the other job offer. But at least I know for now that if I do decide to stay at my current job, things might be getting better for me.

Goodbye Dante (or An Obituary For My Beloved Dog)

I’m so sad to let you all know that Dante passed away yesterday. The cancer that he had was very aggressive and he survived almost 2 weeks longer than both the vet and the dog oncologist thought he could. And I am more grateful than ever that I got to see Dante two more times after his diagnosis.

But I want to share more than just his passing with you all. Dante was an amazing dog and you should all know the legacy that he is leaving behind.

We got Dante as a puppy. He was a rescue dog (I think everyone should adopt since there are so many dogs out there looking for a home). And from the day we got him, we knew that Dante was different. We always said that he seemed like a person in a dog suit, not a dog. We knew that he was meant for something special.

We put him in puppy school right away and he was so incredibly smart. He also was always calm around people and seemed to make everyone happy wherever he was. While I was still in high school, my mom brought Dante to school where he hung out in the library. And once my mom saw how great he was with everyone, she decided to see if Dante could become a therapy dog.

Dante passed all the therapy dog tests with flying colors and my mom and Dante started to work with a group called Furry Friends and they visited people in nursing homes and senior centers.

After working with Furry Friends for a while, my mom was inspired to start a pet therapy program at the hospital where my dad worked so Dante could work there. Dante was such an amazing dog (and my mom was a great presenter), so the hospital created a therapy program. Dante was the very first dog in the program, and Dante helped to train all the other dogs there (I don’t know exactly how many dogs they have now, but it’s over 10 for sure). The program will live on for many years, and it all started because of Dante.

Besides being a working dog, Dante was an amazing family dog. He loved to be with my family (especially my mom). He loved being in Tahoe so he could hike in the summer and play in the snow in the winter. He also loved the beach (and loved to roll in dead seals if he had the chance and my mom didn’t catch him). He liked to hang out with the family wherever we were.

This loss is a hard for my family. Dante was a family member, not just a dog. And he became the child of the family once both my brother and I moved away for college. There is a hole in all of our hearts right now.

To close out this post, I just wanted to share some of my favorite Dante pictures.

He had this look he would get sometimes, and we would call it googly-eyes. This photo is the best example I have of that look.


He also was one of the most photogenic dogs I know. He always seemed to know to smile for the camera.


And he put up with all the silly outfits we put him in (this is what my brother chose for him one Halloween).


And celebrities loved Dante! I used to work out with Richard Simmons, and my parents joined me a few years ago when they were in town. Richard found out that Dante was waiting in the car and he insisted we bring him to the studio so he could meet him.


And this is one of the last photos I have of Dante. My mom sent it to me to show me how well Dante was doing on his new medicine. I love his smile in this one.


If you want to see more photos (and a video) of Dante or learn more about therapy dogs, check out Dante’s website.

I’m sorry if this post is depressing. This is a major thing in my life and I didn’t want to not share it because it’s sad.

Dante Levin       1/26/01-12/19/13


“2 Broke Girls” Again (or Seeing A Friend Be Awesome!)

Last week, my friend Ace posted on Facebook that he booked an episode of “2 Broke Girls”! I was super excited for him! I love when my friends are on tv, but I love it even more when it’s a show that I already watch and love!

Then, a day or two later, he posted that he could have guests come to watch the taping. Of course, I said yes! I had a great time at the taping in February, and this one could only be better because I knew someone in the show!

I got an email telling me that I would be a VIP guest for the taping. There were some instructions that were similar to the last time, but some that were different.

I had to be at Warner Brothers by 3pm on Tuesday, but I got there extra early (I always give myself extra time for traffic). There was a special line for VIP guests so I stood off to the side and waited for security to check me in (since I didn’t have a regular ticket, they had my name on a guest list).

While in the VIP line, I ended up meeting another one of Ace’s friends, Belen. She and I chatted a bit while we walked through the studio to the soundstage that the show tapes on. Inside the soundstage, we checked in with another security guard who led us to one of the studio pages with the VIP list.

Last time, the seats were not assigned ahead of time. They just put us where they needed to fill in the space. This time, I had a chair with my name on it! Sadly, I don’t have a picture of that because there were no cameras or cell phones allowed inside (yes, even for VIP guests). The whole row that I was sitting in were Ace’s friends (and his fiancée). We were all pretty darn excited to see Ace in the show.

There was the same comedian who kept us entertained between takes. This taping took longer than last time, but they did more re-writes this time as well. We all were anxious to see Ace, and finally, it was his scene! I don’t want to give away any plot points (also, I don’t think WB would like me to blog about exactly what happened), but Ace had a very funny scene and his character interacted with the main characters. They even mentioned his character again in another scene (all of us in the group agreed that the show should make Ace’s character a recurring character!).

Toward the end of the taping, Ace let us know that we could go down to the stage after the show was done to say hello to him. So after the curtain call (where we all screamed and cheered when Ace took his bow), we went down the stairs to the stage.

We stayed off to the side because we didn’t want to get in the way of the crew trying to take down the set. But we got to say hi to Ace and tell him how amazing he did in the show!

And since Ace was allowed to keep his phone, he got a crew member to take a picture of the group.


Before we knew it, Ace had to go backstage to get out of his costume and the group had to head home (I also had an early shift the next day and didn’t want to be out too late).

This was such an amazing evening. I love getting to see my friends do so well and be successful (I hope they feel the same thing for me when I book parts).

This episode should be one of the next episodes of “2 Broke Girls” to air (they are on hiatus until January). If I know ahead of time that Ace’s episode will be on, I’ll let you all know so you can watch it and see how great he was!

Countdown To Saturday (or I’m Actually Excited To Get On A Plane)

Saturday is when I go home to see my family. I have a few days off of work so I’ll get to be home for 5 days this time!

While I’m typically panicky and nervous to get on a plane, there are so many things to look forward to on this trip that I’m actually feeling pretty good about this flight (I’m still going to take my panic meds no matter what).

I get to spend time with my parents. I might go with my mom when she gets blood work done so if I do I’ll get to meet some of the nurses and doctors who are involved in my mom’s treatment (I really hope to be able to do that). I’ll make a couple of trips to the gym with my dad, which is a tradition that we always do when I’m home.

I’ll get to see my brother and sister-in-law on Christmas. My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, so the date is coincidental (it’s a day that both my brother and sister-in-law have off of work). I’m bringing their Hanukkah presents with me, so I’ll get to give them their presents in person instead of shipping them (a rare treat).

A couple of my friends that I grew up with are planning on coming over to my parents’ house while I’m home. We are still working on scheduling, but even if I only get to see one friend while I’m home that will be special.

Hopefully, Dante will hold out until Saturday so I can see him again. It’s hard to tell how he’s doing. My parents tell me that he’s not losing weight (thanks to him eating lots of people food) and sometimes he’s able to go out for his usual walks. But he’s sleeping more than usual and gets very tired easily. But Dante is very excited for the puppy (he has a pretty extensive vocabulary and really does understand lots of things we tell him).

And of course, I’m super excited for Chaucer to get to my parents’ house! It still doesn’t seem real that my parents are getting him. I don’t know if it will seem real until we know exactly what day he’s coming home (or maybe not until he gets home). I’m so lucky that I’m going to be home when Chaucer is supposed to come home. Otherwise I might not get to meet the puppy for several months.

Keeping all these positive things in mind is helping keep my panic at bay for now. I’m sure on Friday I’ll be taking my medicine as usual. But it’s nice to have so much to look forward to!