Saturday, April 18, 2015

Snap: Your Pup Enjoying The Sun

You may remember that back in January when I shared my 2015 new years resolutions, number three on the list was "adopt a dog." I am happy to report that the search is in full effect! I'll be sharing more about that quest next week, but today I wanted to share a fun and easy way you can celebrate your pup and donate to Best Friends Animal Society at the same time.

TrueCar has launch a campaign on Instagram called #DogsInCars. For each photo snapped and tagged with #DogsInCars, TrueCar will donate $1 to Best Friends Animal Society, up to $50,000 dollars total.

The money will be used to provide "Joy Rides" for dogs, meaning transportation from overpopulated shelters to local adoption facilities where they can find their forever homes (or furever homes, as dog people say).

If you're wondering why a car company would do something like this (I was wondering too), Lucas Donat, the chief marketing officer at TrueCar said, "This campaign celebrates the fact that dogs share our passion for cars. We wanted to align the joy of car ownership with the joy of car buying, and no one gets more joy from a car ride than mankind's best friend."

Whether you are currently car shopping or not, taking a picture of your pup enjoying a ride with the windows down is an easy thing to do and it's for a great cause. Here are a few photos that have been submitted already:

You can see the full gallery here.

So, to be sure your photo counts towards the $50,000 dollar donation, caption your Instagram photo with #DogsInCars #donate and tag @TrueCar.

Let's help secure those Joy Rides!

*All images courtesy of TrueDogsInCars.com.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Meet The Marathoner: Stephanie Kaplan Lewis

As we head into marathon weekend, I have one final runner I'd like to introduce you to, Stephanie Kaplan Lewis.

Stephanie and I met a few years ago at a women's leadership dinner. Over the course of the meal we discovered we grew up in the same town, graduated from the same high school, and that she was dating one of my high school classmates (he is now her husband).

After that small world encounter, Stephanie and I have been in constant touch and I have marveled at all she has accomplished. After graduating from Harvard, Stephanie co-founded Her Campus Media. The business has seen tremendous success and she's currently promoting the company's first book "The Her Campus Guide to College Life."

Despite her packed schedule, this year Stephanie also decided to run her first marathon. She is running in support of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center team. The hospital is a place very close to her heart, as that's where she was treated after being diagnosed with a sarcoma (tumor) in her arm at the young age of 24.

Thanks to the incredible care she received, Stephanie has been cancer-free for over 18 months.

Read on to learn Stephanie's marathon training secrets, including Flywheel workouts and her wardrobe staple, her neon fanny pack!

PBS: Is this your first marathon?

SKL: Yes!

PBS: What made you decide to run this year? And why Boston?

SKL: Having grown up in the Boston area (Newton, MA), attended college here (at Harvard), and now running my business here (Her Campus Media, with our offices in Packard's Corner) and living in Brookline's Coolidge Corner with my husband Jason, I always knew that if I were ever going to run a marathon, it had to be the Boston Marathon!

I grew up watching the marathon every year and know what a truly incredible event it is for the city. I decided to run this year after taking up a renewed interest in running recently and feeling like this was the right year for me to take on this challenge, from a time, fitness level, and motivation perspective!

PBS: You are running with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center team. Tell us more about that.

SKL: I'm running with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center team to support the hospital's Cancer Center. I first became connected with BIDMC when I started dating my now-husband, Jason, who had just begun his emergency medicine residency at BIDMC at the time.

Between driving him to and from his ER shifts at all hours of the day and night, attending residency retreats together, and socializing with the other residents, I came to feel like a part of the BIDMC community. I had no idea I would soon become a patient there myself.

Jason and I got engaged during the summer of 2013, and two weeks later, at age 24, I found out I had cancer - a sarcoma (tumor) in my arm. Definitely not something I was expecting to have to tackle, when all I wanted to do was plan my wedding and run my start-up (Her Campus). Those first few weeks after the diagnosis were filled with so much anxiety and uncertainty as we figured out a course of action.

Thanks to the incredible doctors and care at BIDMC, I was lucky to receive excellent treatment that enabled me to be declared cancer-free a few months later. I got to spend the next year tackling the projects and challenges I wanted to tackle, rather than battling cancer. I am thrilled to say I have now been cancer-free for over a year and a half thanks to the expert care I received at BIDMC.

PBS: How have you stayed motivated to train during the coldest and snowiest winter in Boston history?

SKL: This winter was absolutely brutal! Had I not committed to running the marathon before the winter started, I probably would not have left my apartment to work out at all these past few months! But I had committed to this team, this event and this fundraising cause, and I knew I didn't want to let myself, BIDMC, or my friends and family who had donated, down. I just kept focusing on the end goal and visualizing myself running the race, and I knew that if I didn't put in the miles and the workouts to get there, there would be no way I would be able to do it. I definitely substituted a lot of outdoor runs for spin classes though (Flywheel is my favorite!), and did a lot of shorter runs on the treadmill!

PBS: Will you be wearing anything special on race day? 

SKL: I really have no idea what I'll be wearing on race day since the weather is so unpredictable! And having done all my long runs in the freezing cold, I'm not even sure what to wear to run in warmer temperatures. But my one running "staple" is my neon fanny pack that I use to carry my iPhone (which I use for music), ID, credit card, and my running snacks (Vanilla Waffle Honey Stingers are my go-to). My coworkers make fun of me for my fanny pack, but I swear I couldn't do a long run without it! I got it at TJMaxx, which is where I get as many things as possible!

PBS: Is there anything else you'd like the readers to know?

SKL: Training for a marathon (and running one, I imagine!) really pushes you to your physical and mental limits. For me, it was important to have mantras I could repeat to myself when things got really tough on a long run. One of my newer ones, taken from the movie "Unbroken" which I saw over the holidays and thought was so incredible and inspiring, is "If I can take it, I can make it." When I was on a miserable long run in the freezing cold and snow, I would just tell myself that if I can just get through this, one training workout at a time, then I'll be able to run the marathon.

PBS: Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your training journey and the personal story behind the team you are supporting.

Readers, if you would like to make a donation to Team BIDMC, please do so here.

Good luck on Monday, Stephanie! We know you can take it and you'll make it!

*All photos courtesy of Stephanie Kaplan Lewis.

Grey's Anatomy: Flight Flashbacks

At the close of last week's episode we were all left wondering, "Where is Derek?" So of course after that dramatic preview, last night's episode did not address Derek's whereabouts at all. I hate that!

The title of the episode was "One flight down" and in the opening scene, a plane crashes right over the Chief's car as he's driving into work.

The crash occurred when the pilot of the private plane, Sam, felt pain in his chest and lost control. He was flying with his date, Kate. Kate had to take over and attempt to land the plane. All this on their very first date.

When Kate, Sam and the rest of the injured parties arrive to the hospital their story brings back painful memories for Meredith and Arizona. Meredith starts roaming the halls in search of Arizona. She finds her on the floor of the supply closet, trying not to have a panic attack.

Once Kate and Sam come out of surgery, Kate has memory loss. Edwards is determined to help her gain back the first date memory. When both Amelia and Owen try to get Edwards to stop pushing, she screams at them, "Me. I am the protagonist. You two don't interest me. This story is about love. And I will find it. He is out there. Even if I crash a plane, he is out there." Preach, my friend!

Eventually Edwards does help Kate remember. She wheels her into Sam's room where he is recovering from the heart surgery. Kate suddenly says, "He made sandwiches." Edwards and Amelia look at each other and realize they've done it. She remembers!

With the hope of true love restored, we can turn our attention to Callie, Arizona and Alex. Alex decides to confess to Arizona that he is actually the one who cut off her leg after the crash. He asks, "Do you know it was me who cut off your leg?" She looks stunned and he continues, "I made the cut. I'm the one who did it."

Arizona rushes to find Callie and asks why she hid this all this time. Callie replies, "I didn't want you to hate Alex too. I wanted you to have somebody." In moments like those, I really root for Callie. Can we get her a nice, easy romance?

In the last scene of the hour, Meredith goes to call the police about Derek and we see flashing red and blue lights outside her house. Are we supposed to assume the cops have arrived? That Derek is with them? Or they are reporting his disappearance? Or worse, his death?

In the previews for next week the narrator says "this is the episode America will never forget." It looks like Derek stopped to help a group of car crash victims, including Sydney from Parenthood.

Tell me, what do you think? Is Derek alive?

*Image courtesy of @GreysABC on Instagram.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Movie Musings: The Longest Ride

This weekend I went with two friends to see The Longest Ride, the newest movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. I had seen a preview for the movie when I saw 50 Shades of Grey. I knew nothing about the plot, just that I wanted to see a mostly naked Scott Eastwood.

The movie has two story lines - present day and a series of flashbacks. In the present, Scott Eastwood stars as rodeo champion Luke Collins.

For those who are not aware, Scott is Clint Eastwood's son. Let me tell you, I would watch Scott on mute.

I don't have much to say about his performance, other than he's outrageously handsome.

Britt Robertson plays his love interest, Sophia. I wasn't familiar with Britt Robertson, but apparently she's been on three TV shows: Life Unexpected, The Secret Circle and Under The Dome. Her character is a sorority girl with a passion for art. At the time she meets Luke the rodeo star, she has already accepted a position at an art gallery in New York City.

All three of us agreed, the chemistry between Luke and Sophia just wasn't believable. And that's saying a lot, considering Scott's abs! And butt. And smile.

Though the film is being promoted as a cowboy love story, it was actually the secondary story line that stole the show. Alan Alda plays an elderly man recovering from a car accident. His character, Ira, develops a very sweet relationship with Sophia. He winds up sharing many stories about when he first met his wife.

The young Ira is played by Jack Huston (who looks like a slightly broader Johnny Deep) and his wife is played Oona Chaplin. Yes, as in, the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin.

Ira and Ruth's love connection completely steals the show. Going into the movie, I didn't even know there was a secondary story line, and coming out, I wished it had been the sole focus!

At the end of the two hour and ten minute saga, I was disappointed in the predictable ending for Luke and Sophia and wishing we had spent more time with Ira and Ruth.

This is a movie that you don't need to spend $13 dollars to see in the theater, but would make a nice Netflix or iTunes choice for a rainy day or a plane ride.

Now I am looking forward to Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15) and Aloha (May 29).

*Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Read: Eating Rome

My junior year of college I studied abroad in Cordoba, Spain. For our spring break I traveled to Italy with two friends, making three stops - Venice, Florence and Rome. Though I thought I'd fall deeply in love with Venice or Florence, Rome was the city that stole my heart. In fact, of all the places I visited in Europe that year, Rome was the only place I could actually see myself living.

Thought I'm back stateside, I can get my Roman fix anytime I want with Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome, the most beautiful (and delicious!) blog about life in Rome. After the popularity of her blog exploded, Elizabeth took her best posts and transformed them into her new book "Eating Rome: Living The Good Life in the Eternal City."

When my copy arrived I could not wait to start leafing through it!

The book is a fun mix of personal anecdotes, restaurant recommendations and authentic Italian recipes. If you are currently planning a trip to Italy, you will put post-it notes all over this thing.

As I began reading, I knew Elizabeth and I were of the same mind when I read the line, "You want to know what my favorite meal of the day is? It's cocktail hour." I'll cheers to that!

The book's chapters all have great titles like "How to order coffee like a Roman" or "Bringing home the pancetta."

Of course my favorite chapter is "How to eat gelato like a Roman." The pictures are so fantastic that I actually felt like if I concentrated hard enough, I could put a spoon right into one of those dishes.

After falling in love with Elizabeth's adventures in Rome, I had to know more about her and how this book became to be. She was kind enough to make time for a few questions.

PBS: When did you first move to Rome?

EM: I first moved to Rome when I was 12, with my family, and lived here for two years. Although we moved back to the States, I always came back in the summers. Finally, in 1988 I moved back permanently. First as a graduate student, and then stayed on when I met my Italian husband.

PBS: What do you love most about the city?

EM: I'd say it's probably a toss-up between the food and the light.

PBS: How has the city changed in the past 20+ years?

EM: Sadly, many of the original old artisan shops are closing. But at the same time, a younger generation is opening new types of shops and restaurants that are very exciting.

PBS: You started your blog in 2009. Do you like sharing your adventures online?

EM: Yes, I love it! I've embraced not only blogging, but social media with open arms. I love getting feedback directly from my readers and being in constant contact with my colleagues.

PBS: You host food tours in Rome. Have you been able to meet any of your readers through the tours?

EM: Yes, that's been a wonderful perk of doing the food tours, getting to meet some of my most faithful fans and readers.

PBS: You mention in your blog's "About" page that one of the most fun aspects of blogging for you has been the photography/visual component. Tell us more about that.

EM: Up until I began my blog, I always had the luxury to work with professional photographers. Once I started my blog, I found I had to take my own photographs. I found that working with photographers had been a great learning experience, and I developed my own style quickly. I'm always looking to improve my photographs and love trying out new media, like video. Also sharing images on social media has made me see things in a different way, since I get such immediate feedback.

PBS: "Eating Rome" is your seventh book. Is this lucky number seven?

EM: It's my seventh book, but my first book on food, so that's exciting!

PBS: If someone is visiting Rome for the first time, what are the five food stops they absolutely must make?

EM: Pizza Bianca at Forno Campo dei Fiori, Caffe Doppio con panna at San Eustachio, Carbonara at Perilli, Fried Artichoke in the Jewish Ghetto at Pompiere or Sora Margherita and Pistacchio Gelato at Alberto Pica.

PBS: You have also created several mobile apps for discovering the best food of Italy. How is the app design process different from blogging or writing your books?

EM: My apps are like the digital version of a guide book you can keep in your pocket. They provide quick, concise advice about where to eat when you are in each city. My blog and my book are a longer format.

PBS: Is there anything else you'd like the readers to know about your blog or the new book?

EM: I'm always updating and changing my blog, based on what my readers suggest and comment on. So I invite your readers to follow along on whatever social media channel they feel comfortable with - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube - and join the conversation. I love the sense of community that has developed over the years and it's one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work. And of course I'd love to hear back what people think about my book because, you know, I'm open to ideas for the next project!

PBS: A big thank you to Elizabeth for sharing her story and inviting all of us to drool over her food photos and videos online!

If you'd like to order your own copy of "Eating Rome" you can do so right here.

*Although my copy of "Eating Rome" was complimentary, all opinions are 100 percent my own.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Meet The Marathoner: Emily Mahlman

I can't believe I am typing this, but the 2015 Boston Marathon is one week from today!

With the beautiful weather we had yesterday, it seems like we may actually have a warm, sunny day for Marathon Monday.

Today, in the fourth installment of the "Meet the Marathoner" series, I'd like to introduce you to the runner who inspired it all, Emily Mahlman.

Emily and I used to work together, and when she told me back in the fall that she was planning to run the marathon in April, I was shocked. Emily's work schedule is very demanding and includes a ton of travel, plus she serves as a board member and/or volunteer for several location organizations. How was she going to fit in marathon training? And not just training, also fundraising.

As I asked myself "How is she going juggle all this?" I had a lightbulb moment. The people who run the Boston Marathon for charity deserve serious recognition. How could I help shed some light on these incredible individuals as they prepare for race day?

The Pop.Bop.Shop. "Meet the Marathoner" series is my little way of putting these super heroes in the spotlight.

In the below Q&A, Emily shares the organization she is running to support, the ways she trained through Boston's most brutal winter in history and the one thing she plans to continually remind herself on the race course (spoiler alert: it's that "I'm not a Kenyan").

PBS: Is this your first time running a marathon? 

EM: This is my first time running the Boston Marathon, and my second marathon. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon five years ago.

PBS: What made you decide to run Boston this year?

EM: I actually felt compelled to run the Boston Marathon after the bombing. I actually said on my blog that week that I would run the marathon the next year (which would have been last year), but I was not able to get on a charity team, so this is two years in the making!

PBS: You are running in support of the Children's Advocacy Center of Suffolk County. Tell us more about the organization and how you got involved.

EM: My very good friend Laura is an Assistant District Attorney in Boston. She prosecutes individuals who have been accused of sexually abusing children. I frequently think about her when I'm having a bad day at work. I get stressed about the logistics of an event, or the phrasing of a press release. She is putting sickos behind bars. She is keeping children safe. That'll certainly give you some perspective on your "work emergency."

I learned about the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) through her. When a child is abused and comes froward, although heartbreakingly, many do not come forward, there are multiple parties and moving pieces involved in prosecuting such a case (police, prosecutors, doctors, etc.). A coordinated response from experts in their respective fields is required to reduce stress on the victim throughout the investigation and intervention process. CAC believes that helping abused children and their families requires an approach that addresses the physical, emotional and legal dimensions of abuse. It is terrible that so many children are victims of this god-awful kind of abuse, and they deserve to be protected, to get justice, to be safe and to heal.

This is a cause I can get behind . . . and I am . . . for 26.2 miles.

PBS: Did you know anyone on the CAC team before joining?

EM: We have a very loose team. There are only five of us, but we don't train together. I met them once at a kick-off meeting. We each train solo.

PBS: How has it been to train in Boston's worst winter in history?

EM: I hate treadmills; I call them "dredmills." So aside from four or five three mile runs, all my training has been outside. It's funny because we had some really cold days in December right as my training began, so that was a reality check. I thought, even before all the snow started, "Well, this is what training is going to be like, I better get used to it." And I did. I got some serious winter running great (thanks, Mom), and got to it. I found that anything above seven degrees I could do. When it got to single digits, with wind chills below zero, that's when it was just too cold. Anything above that I could handle. Then the snow started . . .

The places I could run became few and far between. There was so much snow on the roads, so that meant I was running nearly in the middle of the road with cars. So I was very much sequestered to the Charles River. New Balance helps maintain and plow the Boston side (God bless them) so I probably was better off than others.

PBS: How did you motivate yourself to run in the arctic winter conditions?

EM: Motivation was actually never an issue for me. I am a pretty goal-oriented and competitive person, so the fact that I committed to doing this was really all I needed. I think training actually helped me make it through this winter. We were all hibernating, but the fact that I had to get out there and run helped me see past the annoyances, and allowed me to see the beauty of what was happening in our city.

PBS: You often take beautiful photos on your morning runs. Do you feel like you get to see a different Boston by waking up earlier than most?

EM: I absolutely do. These early morning runs combine two of my favorite things: running and photography.

I used to produce TV news and documentaries, so my Instagram bio is very true: I like telling stories with pictures . . . still. We are all so busy during the day, rushing to work, the gym, to meet friends. But when the sun is coming up, I am most likely alone, it's quiet, and I am doing some of my best thinking. And then all of a sudden I notice something . . . the sun reflecting off the Hancock, peeking out between trees. When I capture one of these moments, and I know it is a compelling image, I get really excited. The feedback I get from friends and strangers alike indicates that others appreciate me capturing these moments as well.

PBS: Is there a section of the race course you are most looking forward to? Or dreading most?

EM: I ran mile five to the finish line last weekend for my last 21 mile run. During that run, I was running by Boston College and asked a fellow runner, "Where's Heartbreak Hill?" She said that I had already passed it. There is nothing better she could have said to me at that moment. I feel really confident about the course. I think I really have to run smart, keep my competitive instincts in check (i.e. remember I am not a Kenyan) and really enjoy every mile. I am really looking forward to seeing all my friends and family (my dad is flying up to cheer me on) along the way.

PBS: Will you be wearing anything special on race day? 

As the weather forecast for that day comes into focus, I will be picking my exact outfit, but I will have my name on my shirt. I know hearing your name yelled, even by a stranger, has the power to give you a jolt of excitement and motivation when you need it most. I know I will need all the help I can get that day! Green is my favorite color, so I hope to find a bright green shirt for good luck!

PBS: You've created a custom hashtag for your social media updates about the marathon. Tell us how that came about and how you decided on the tag.

EM: It started out as just a way for me to keep track of my Instagram pictures, but then it morphed into a rallying call of sorts for my fundraising and me. I really thought #MAHLmarathon was just funny, certainly not the most ideal for search purposes (i.e. "Boston" is not included), but it's a little kooky, and so am I, so it's perfect!

PBS: Will you plan to update social media during the race?

EM: I will likely take some pictures and share them on Instagram and Twitter, but knowing me, I will be so focused on running my best race, that I think it will likely be at the beginning and at the end.

PBS: Is there anything else you'd like the readers to know?

EM: This really is a dream come true for me. I am so excited. When I ran the last 21 miles of the course last weekend, there were people out cheering us on, handing out water and Gatorade. And it wasn't even the actual marathon! I am so excited for Marathon Monday, to soak up everything that is "Boston."

PBS: If you'd like to support Emily and the CAC team, you can make a donation right here.

Good luck, Emily! We'll be watching for your green shirt and we'll be shouting to give you that extra jolt!

*All images courtesy of Emily Mahlman.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Grey's Anatomy: Be Excellent

Last night ABC aired the first ever episode of Grey's Anatomy in the 8:00pm slot, just before the new episode (Scandal is apparently on hiatus this week). Did anyone watch it?

The new episode was titled "Crazy Love" which was completely appropriate. We've seen a lot of crazy patient stories over the years, but a severed penis? Really, Shonda?

In the primary patient case a chef (Thomas) comes in with his sous chef and she's carrying a restaurant takeout bag with his penis in it. Apparently, his wife (Marsha) chopped it off when she discovered he was sleeping with the sous chef.

Edwards helps prep for surgery and delivers the penis to Dr. Avery. He commends he great prep work and she replies, "It wasn't hard. I mean, it's not a big thing. It was easy, I was just in and out." Ha! She couldn't recover. Innuendo overload.

After the chef has been successfully reattached to his member, his wife arrives. Apparently they had a deal. Waitresses and hostesses are ok, but nothing more. Good lord.

In another OR, Callie and Amelia are doing spinal surgery on a teenage golf prodigy. The actress who played the golfer's mother looked so familiar but I couldn't quite place her.

Callie and Amelia screw up during surgery and the young woman won't be able to play golf again. Upon hearing the news, her mother reprimands them and says, "My daughter was excellent. You were supposed to be too."

In the love department, Amelia and Owen seem to be getting along great and having sleepovers. Meredith questions Amelia's intentions and asks her, "How well are you getting to know each other? Pants on or pants off well?" Ha!

Things seems to be going swimmingly until Amelia flubs the golfer's surgery and has a melt down. She tells Owen, "this was a mistake." He doesn't even verbally respond, he just turns on his heels and leaves. I have never been a fan of this story line or love connection, so I personally don't care at all if this gets resolved.

Across the hospital, Pierce is trying to figure out what went wrong on her date with the radiologist. After some adorable advice from Alex, she confronts him. Turns out, she talked the entire date and then she paid!

After thinking on it, Pierce sheepishly goes back to him and apologies. She admits that at work she "brings the thunder" and she did the same on their date to mask her nerves. In the cutest moment of the whole episode, the radiologist says to her, "Next time, I'll bring the thunder." Awwww!

In the final scene of the episode, Meredith takes a phone call intended for Derek. Apparently he flew back to D.C. but missed his meeting at the White House. In previews for next week, they dramatically asked the question, "Where. Is. Derek?"

What do you think? Did Derek make it to D.C.? Did he never get on the plane? Did his plane crash?

*Image courtesy of US Magazine.

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