On our Radar

Liz here--I'm so excited to debut our latest feature, On Our Radar, where we'll be dishing on the things we're loving right now--anything from a TV show to music to lipstick.  Because when we love something, we want you to know about it! And hopefully, you'll join in the fun and tell us what you heart at the moment too!

On Liz's Radar


1. Nashville

nashville-poster_461x590No, not the city!  The TV show! To be honest, the first episode was just so-so.  But thank GAWD I stuck with it because it's my new favorite --Connie Britton is awesome and Hayden Panettiere has such a perfect country drawl that I've forgotten that she was ever a cheerleader that saved the world.  But what makes it really stand out is not just all the pretty people(hello, hot boys with cute accents and guitars!) and fun drama, but the MUSIC.  It's RAD.  And downloadable from iTunes--I've written most of our new book so far while listening to When The Right One Comes Along. Want to get in the action?  You can watch full episodes at FOR FREE!



2. Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany

41AN8prfBiL._SL500_AA300_Okay,  so here's the deal.  I'm an emotional robot and don't like to cry.  EVER.  But, damnit, I can never pass up Amy's emotionally fulfilling books.  So, there I am, reading the ARC of Heart Like Mine, ignoring my husband and children, turning the pages as fast as I can, devouring every word.  And then I felt some liquid substance started coming out of my eyes and I'm like WTF!  (*Maybe* they were tears. *Maybe* even major waterworks.  But let's just keep that between us--I have a rep to protect!)  But you know what?  It was worth it to have a good cry over Heart Like Mine--it's THAT good.  Do yourself a favor and pre-order it. (Out March 19th!)

Here's what it's about: Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be?

At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again. But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover that there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.

3. Neuma Hair Products

IMG_1701You may or may not know this, but I have some FRIZZY ASS hair.  It's never been a wash and go situation over here. My thick, horsey mane is hard to control! My hairdresser(is it still okay to call them that?) turned me on to Neuma last month and I am IN LOVE. I want to MAKE OUT with this stuff.  My hair behaves itself.  It looks shiny!  And most importantly, I don't have it wash it nearly as often. (Don't judge me!  Straightening that mane is a pain in the ass!) So, to my fellow frizzy-haired sisters,  run, don't walk down to your salon and pick this up.



4. The Funeral by Band of Horses

indexI know I already mentioned I'm loving the music on Nashville.  But here's another song that I've had on repeat for some time.  I heard it randomly and used my Shazam app to identify it. (Btw, how awesome is Shazam, right?)  I tend to lean towards sweet sounding, guitar playing women, but I fell in love with this tune form a few good men.  I've listened to it so often that my kids scream, Mommy No!, whenever it starts playing in the car.  Seriously?  After all the Radio Disney torture I've endured, I think they can indulge me.

Take a listen.  What do you think?




5. #TaylorSwiftBacklash?

1353181079_taylor-swift-gHave you seen it start?  The Taylor Swift backlash? She didn't seem too happy when Adele whipped her ass for Best Song at The Golden Globes.  Then she and that boy bander broke up.(They all look the same to me?) And then Michael J Fox (seriously? You know it's bad when Alex P Keaton is taking shots at you!) made some nasty comments about her. Just sayin', it seems like the tide is turning.  Personally, I don't have anything against her, except for the fact that I'm force fed her ridiculously catchy tunes every day on the way to school. (Damn you again Radio Disney!)  But, for her sake, I hope she comes up with some non-break up songs on her next album.




Sarah Dessen's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

In case you haven't noticed, May has been a HUGE month for great books. (Which is appropriate considering it's also International Chick Lit Month-head on over to that site if you haven't already for tons of giveaways!)  So it's understandable that we are crushin' on a TON of writers right now! One of them is the wonderfully fantastic NYT bestselling author Sarah Dessen-her latest novel What Happened to Goodbye(her first in two years!) just came out and we have a feeling it's going to shoot up the bestseller list faster than Lindsay Lohan's next stint in jail.  We LOVED it and have a feeling that y'all will too.  It's the kind of YA that us old people(ie people over 18) like too!  And the fact that she's a fellow Fanilow and reality TV addict?  Totally. Awesome.

In What Happened to Goodbye, Dessen tells the story of Mclean, a high school senior who has taken up the practice of assuming a new identity in each of the four towns she's lived in since her parents' bitter divorce. Living with her Dad and estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Want to win a copy for yourself? Then just leave a comment and be entered to win!  So freakin' easy, right?  We'll choose the winners on Monday May 16th after 6pm PST.  Good luck!


"When I first got this assignment, I immediately went all neurotic. (This isn’t hard for me, as my default setting is partially neurotic.) Five Dos and One do-over sounds simple, but I am more full of things I wish I hadn’t done than those that I have. Maybe this is because I am so neurotic?

Anyway. Despite my issues, I love a challenge. So here we go…" - Sarah Dessen



1.  DO trust your gut. While I often waffle with indecisiveness about everything from what to eat for breakfast to which shoes to wear, when it comes to the Big Stuff I’ve learned to listen hard to that one, true inner voice. When I was eighteen, I was a hot mess in so many ways. High school was not a good time for me, which is probably why I’m still writing about it. All I wanted was to get out of my hometown as fast as possible, so I accepted the first college admission I received and headed off to a state school forty-five minutes away, where I promptly decided to be an advertising major. Within a week or two, I knew I’d made a mistake. I was miserable, hated my classes, and yet I knew that leaving would signal the biggest failure of my life. (It’s bad enough to drop out of college, worse when your parents are academics. The shame! I can still taste it.) In the end, though, I decided that admitting I’d made the wrong choice was better than wasting a year of my life, so I returned home. There, my parents insisted I sign up for a class at the local university. I’d always liked to write, so I picked creative writing. From the moment I sat down in that class, that first day, and looked at my professor, Doris Betts, I knew I was in the right place. Finally. It just took a detour---and being quiet---to realize it.

2. If you really want something and fail the first time getting it, DO try again, even if it scares you. This is a huge one for me. A few years ago, after much thought, my husband and I decided to try for a baby. Like most people who had spent a bulk of their lives worrying about preventing pregnancy, I figured this would require very little effort on my part. I was wrong. A year later, we’d had no luck, and I started making the rounds of specialists. Eventually, I got a little help from a fertility drug and got the little plus sign on the stick. Success! I was so happy, I immediately told all my friends and family and began making preparations. At eight weeks, I went for my first ultrasound. I peered at the screen, so excited but there was…nothing. The pregnancy hadn’t progressed past the first couple of weeks. I was devastated. It seemed so unfair to try to hard for something and finally get it, only to immediately have it slip away. It was almost embarrassing, although I know that doesn’t make sense. Anyway, I swore I wasn’t going to try again, that I didn’t have the strength for another disappointment. But then, as the weeks passed, I couldn’t shake this image of me with a baby in my arms. I wanted it so much, enough to---just barely, sometimes---outweigh the fear. Two months later I got pregnant again. And while it often felt like I was holding my breath the entire nine months, the day my daughter was born was hands-down my happiest. I cannot imagine my life without her, and I’m grateful every day that I faced down everything that scared me to get her here.

3.  DO have boundaries. Although my parents are from New York and Baltimore, respectively, I was raised in the South. Somehow---although clearly not genetically---I ended up with the Disease to Please that is very common around these parts. You know the symptoms, even if you are from the Arctic Circle: you have trouble saying no, want everyone to like you, and thus often resemble a doormat. This wasn’t a huge problem for me until my late twenties, when I began teaching undergraduates at my alma mater. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my students. But I needed to be an authority figure, not a friend, something I figured out too late once they started interrupting me in class, handing in everything late, and sobbing on my office couch about their boyfriend problems. When it comes to teaching, you can come in hard and then soften up, but if you start soft, you never recover. It look me a few semesters---and a few verbal smack downs---to realize this, but once I did, I think we were all better off. I will admit, though, that even at age forty (gulp!) this is one I still struggle with. It is one thing to draw a clear line between myself and a class full of students, another to do it with friends, family and work colleagues. Each time I waffle, however, I think of the chaos of my classroom that first semester and know the alternative is much, much worse.

4.  DO take pride in the things you love. I’ve spent a lot of my life---or maybe it just seems that way---feeling like I have to justify my various guilty pleasures. One example: television. I love it. I have a weakness not only for really good shows, like Friday Night Lights, Modern Family and 30 Rock, but also for morning TV (I’m a Good Morning America junkie) and just about every franchise of the Real Housewives on Bravo. And don’t even get me started on America’s Next Top Model and Jersey Shore. (Really: I could go on for DAYS.) For a long time, I felt like I had to keep all of this quiet, since Real Writers and Serious People only watch PBS, if they even have a TV at all. They are certainly not on the treadmill, talking back to some woman in Orange County who is all blinged out, driving her Range Rover. But what I have learned, over time, is that life is short. If something makes you happy, don’t question it: just be glad it’s there and soak it up. This same thinking allowed me to finally expose my iTunes music library, which I had always hidden from my music hipster friends when they came over. “Is that Barry Manilow?” they say, and while I used to die a little inside, now I proudly nod and crank up “I Write the Songs” even louder. We can’t all like the same things. How boring would that be? So give me my Housewives and Barry, and you can have Masterpiece Theatre and Bright Eyes. Everyone wins!

5.  DO embrace your flaws. For years now, I’ve been embarrassed about my teeth, which are slightly crooked. They’re not awful, but not perfect like most of my friends who, unlike me, had braces. For years, I was so self conscious that I never showed my teeth when I smiled, opting instead for a close-mouthed look that always made me look both smirky and like the Hamburgler. It was worse than my crooked teeth, not that I was willing to admit this. In fact, it took my officemate at UNC, Phyllis, a straight-shooter from West Virginia, to set me straight. After a photographer came to take my picture for a campus magazine, she shook her finger at me. “Smile!” she said. “Really smile! You look so much better when you do!” I did not want to believe her, but she insisted, even taking some shots of her own when I wasn’t posing to try and prove her point. My insecurity about my teeth persisted, though, to the point that I even went for consultations about getting adult braces. But when they pushed the paperwork at me, all I could think of was Phyllis, who by then had passed from breast cancer. The last time I’d seen her, she pointed at me with that same finger and said, “You keep smiling.” So I do. With my mouth open, crooked teeth out there for the world to see. Do I love them? No. But they are part of me, and will stay just as they are.


Whew! Okay, that wasn’t so hard. Now for the Do-over. I have a lot to choose from, but top of my list is this: I wish I’d traveled more. I’ve always been a homebody---I still live in my hometown---and for years I was afraid to fly, which limited where I could go even when I did get up the nerve or money to leave. But I wish, WISH I had done study abroad when I was in college, backpacked across Europe, or drove across the country with my girlfriends. I wasted so much time being afraid of anything other than what I knew! It makes me crazy.

I know, I know. I can still do all of that, and most likely I will, when my daughter is older. But I’m a mom now, I have a career, a mortgage, responsibilities. I missed that window when all I needed was a passport, a duffle bag and courage. If I could go back, I’d shake my finger at myself just like Phyllis, insisting I go to Italy, Rome, Greece, see all the places I’ve only visited in movies and books. Maybe I’m able to say that because I am older, and have forty years behind me now. But I believe that given the chance, I’d take that other path, the one that led over an ocean to somewhere far, far away. At least, I like to think so.

Want to read more about Sarah?  Then head on over to her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks Sarah! xoxo, L&L

Flying The (Un) Friendly Skies By Lisa

hi-00204-chula-dancer-hawaii-posters There are certain things that baffle me.

Decaf coffee drinkers.


And those who lack the travel etiquette gene.

You’d think that most people on their way to Maui would be happy (give or take a crying baby or a cranky flight attendant that you make the unfortunate mistake of calling stewardess); perma-grins plastered across their faces; visions of Mai Tais dancing in their heads; their biggest anxiety over how early to wake up to claim the much coveted umbrella-covered pool chairs or figuring out which drink would cause less bloating– a beer or a Bloody Mary.

Or maybe that’s just me?

On the morning of our flight to Maui, I had a pep in my step even as I bounded *gag* barefoot through security and then spent the next five minutes frantically searching for my ID that I thought I’d lost for the SEVENTEENTH time that morning!  Sorry, Matt! (See anal traveler disclaimer, below.)

As I maneuvered my way through LAX, I looked around through my Maui colored glasses and all of the usual airport drama was lost on me.

So what if it took the cashier at Hudson News six and a half minutes to ring me up for TIC TACS!

Oh well if the Starbucks line was wrapped around the corner, they were out of sugar free vanilla AND they forgot to give me my apple bran muffin!

Too bad that a whitehead somehow popped up on my face between the walk from the airport shuttle to the gate!

Because in five and a half short hours, I’d be belly up at the Hula Grill bar inhaling coconut calamari. I was going to Maui, baby! And nothing, I repeat, nothing, was going to get me down!

Well, until I boarded the plane.

Those aforementioned glasses started to fog up just a wee bit as I was bombarded with airplane colleagues who seemed quite a bit less happy to be on team “bound for Maui.”


Exit Row Nazi  a.k.a. The Angry Guy OMG- Last time I checked, you didn’t own the bulk head/exit row, dude. And maybe it wasn’t your problem that I read the airplane map wrong and poor 6’2” Matt and I ended up crammed in the row directly behind the exit row instead of in it.  But when, by the grace of the travel gods, the seat next to you remained empty after we were told to turn off “anything with an on/off switch”, I took it as a sign. Matt could sit there! And I didn’t have to spend the next five hours obsessing about my mistake and instead could focus on far more important matters like immersing myself in my Bride Wars iTunes rental.

Not if the Exit Row Nazi had anything to say about it.

I kindly asked you if Matt could move into the empty seat next to you (more as a formality, than as an actual request-BTW) and you snidely replied that you “liked your space” and your answer was “no!”  WTH crawled up your ass? You were already in the Holy Grail of economy class seating. You already had four freakin’ feet in front of you–more leg room than someone in first class.  You really wanted more?

Ever the negotiator, I didn’t give up. I decided to appeal to your height. Surely you’d feel bad that another tall guy had his knees shoved up under his chin?  Not. The tall plea was absolutely lost on you. You were just bound and determined to be angry guy.

Well angry guy, you f***ed with the wrong girl.

Because somehow you managed to IRRITATE me while I was trying so hard to bask in my Hawaiian, euphoric glow. And nobody f***ks with my glow!

And I was more than done with you because saying NO to giving us that seat was not the first time your angriness had reared its ugly head.

Remember when you crammed your tattered, brown leather bag into the overhead bin and shoved my new, sassy Tory Burch beach bag to the back– annoyed because somehow I didn’t get the memo that the space was reserved for you? And need I remind you of when I tapped your shoulder and said, “sir, sir, excuse me sir” simply to let you know that your pillow was jammed in my tray table–and you acted as if I was asking you to hold my tampon box?

So, when you told me that my man could not move into a seat that–incidentally–you did not own, that was it. I decided to go over your head and I told on you! I asked the flight attendant if Matt could take that seat and she said, “yes!”

So, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah!!

The Barefoot Guy

The fact that you could walk into that airplane bathroom without even so much as socks on your feet, made me want to pull out my barf bag and puke my six dollar, pre-packaged turkey and pesto sandwich into it. For the love of God, my friend, couldn’t you have at least put on a freakin’ flip flop, if not for your own sake, then for mine?! No one should have to even THINK ABOUT what you were stepping on in there. No one. I wish I had your address because I’d send you a vat of antibacterial gel. Although I’m not even sure a case of Purell would help anyone after that.  I feel like I need to be hosed down like a prison inmate after just walking in there.

The Chatty Cathy

Remember when I mentioned my Hawaiian euphoric glow? Well, that didn’t mean I was so happy that I was going to be your in-flight entertainment. Watch a movie. Play Solitaire. Count Sheep. Anything. Because there was no way, especially after angry guy, that I could even fake interest in the story of how you were supposed to go to Mexico and stay in a five star resort, but changed your trip because you were petrified of contracting the swine flu. You made me want to put on surgical mask and start coughing just to get you off my jock.  Didn't you understand that Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson were waiting?

The Frustrated Flight Attendant

Maybe I shouldn’t have pushed the envelope and asked you for a pen to fill out my agricultural clearance form after I’d already  asked you to take sides in my battle with angry guy. (Although, for the record, you chose very, very wisely!) I kind of get why you’d have a short fuse because you probably have to deal with so much shit on every flight that this blog post represents every day fodder for you. I can’t imagine how, flight after flight,  you put up with the call button whores; the “I’m going to get drunk on little bottles of booze” boozers; the people who put TWO bags in the overhead bin; the people who refer to you as stewardess.

Or maybe those things just bother me?

But I mostly can’t understand how you can physically deal with that much air travel because (TMI alert) just ONE flight can completely jack me up–for days. So, I wouldn’t want to share my pen either… if I had to use that bathroom and then couldn’t use that bathroom, if you know what I’m sayin’…

ANAL TRAVELER DISCLAIMER: Because I got up on my 30,000 foot high soap box, it’s time for full-disclosure.  I have a major case of traveler’s OCD. I definitely bring new meaning to the word anal when I travel.

Imagine a Type A, overly caffeinated, Aries on crack.

I have many "day of" travel rules. I must print my boarding pass at home. On the way to the airport, I can’t have a conversation about anything un-airport related because I have “I must make my flight” tunnel vision until I get to the gate. Until I’m on the plane (and sometimes, even after), I check, re-check and check again that my ID is in my wallet. (Again, Matt, sorry about when I almost turned the car around because I thought I’d left it in my wallet–on top of my car!) I must stop at Starbucks on the way to the airport AND after I go through security because I love my coffee and I read somewhere that you should never order it on an airplane. (Although I’m not sure if that’s even true & if it is, I can’t remember why you shouldn’t.) I have to be at the gate one hour before departure. (I have access to the Admiral’s Club, but can’t really relax when I’m in there because I’m worried about losing track of time!) And those are just the MAIN rules.

But at the end of the day, if something isn’t going right on the morning of my flight,  I’m not going to make you pay if I’m cranky.

That’s what my travel partner is there for! ;)

Just kidding! (Sort of!)