Month: June 2012

Raspberry/Strawberry/Mint Lemonade

Last summer as I was voyaging through Europe and the Middle East I was introduced to a drink that changed my taste buds forever. Mint lemonade. Why had I never thought of that before?

I probably drank over 100 of these in my two weeks between Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Fresh mint and crisp lemon helped beat the heat. Now that LA is starting to warm up I thought I should share the drink with all of you, with my own twist…

Ingredients

  • Several fresh mint leaves
  • 3-4 medium frozen strawberries
  • A handful of fresh raspberries
  • Lemonade
The method is pretty self-explanatory. I use a Magic Bullet to blend, and I highly suggest adding it to your kitchen.
Throw together a LOT of raspberries, the mint and the strawberries (which serve as the ice), and blend. Done. Voila.

Fresh and beautiful colors!

– I like Minute Maid’s Lite Lemonade, not just because it is only 15 calories, but because the taste isn’t as syrupy as other brands, which makes way for all of the other flavors.

I’m a HUGE fan of the Magic Bullet. Invest in one…it will save you so much time when crafting things like this drink!

Cold Summer drinks belong in mason jars.

Enjoy!

– Cougar

Advertisements

Texture: LA

If you know where some of these were taken put your guesses in the comment section below.

LA & I

I don’t know what I was doing, but I had fun doing it.

Excess Baggage 4th of July Sale

For all of my readers of the fairer sex, I thought you would appreciate a heads up on an pretty sweet sale!

ShopExcessBaggage.com is having a blowout 4th of July sale… 25% off the entire store!! And that’s on top of their already reduced prices. The sale starts TOMORROW, 6/28, and runs through July 4th.

Here’s a great collage of some of their newest items:

Let me know if you buy anything…take pictures and I’ll feature you!

– Cougar

Dear Cougar: Living Together in Sin…How to Break it to the Priest?

Please leave your questions for Dear Cougar in the comment section below, or feel free to email me at cougar@leftcoastfashion.com

DEAR COUGS: My fiancee, “Heather,” and I are being married next year. Heather is a devout Catholic and is having a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that we’re living together. We recently moved out of state as a result of job transfers and — for purely economic reasons — moved in together.

Now that we’re about to be married, Heather is beside herself with what to tell her new parish priest because she’s afraid he will refuse to marry us if she reveals that we’re living together.

Abby, I love Heather very much, and I’m concerned that this is going to cause problems between us. She’s considering not telling the priest that we live together because she feels he wouldn’t understand. I’m inclined to agree. Before we moved, we were living separately. SINNING IN ST. LOUIS

#

Dearest Sinners…

Since half of my family registers themselves as “devout Catholic,” my big question of this whole ordeal is how devout can thou truly be?

To say that you’re living together purely for “economic reasons” is ridiculous. I’m calling you out on it. You’re engaged! You both knew what were you were getting into when you got into it, and could have made other choices. There is always another choice. But you’re in love, and I’m guessing for the most part you enjoy the perks of your domestically happy (yet sinful!) partnership.

My advice, come clean. If either of you made this decision, no matter what the motivation, you must live with the consequences…both good and bad consequences. Sure, the priest may say he won’t marry you…but I doubt that will be the case.  Most priestly types these days in the wake of scandals left and right, and changing societal norms, will probably let something like this slip by without too harsh of a finger shaking. If he doesn’t, find another priest. This is about marrying the love of your life, right?

A sin is a sin, is a sin. You lie about this and you’re just adding to your stew of unrighteousness. The whole issue is doing what God would want correct? Frame the conversation about your relationship, your love and your love of God. He’ll direct you on what to do and I’m pretty sure he’s not going to tell you to stage a cover-up.

– Cougar

Best believe I ripped this question from Dear Abby. I’m so much better at this!

Is the Save Worth the Shave? Part II – Review of The Dollar Shave Club’s Executive Razor

*** If after reading this you still want to join the Dollar Shave Club, CLICK HERE ***

Update (8/31/12): While I’ve been extremely happy with the shave the The Executive blade gives, the shipping methods of Dollar Shave Club are really starting to irk me. This month I got my razors about a week or more later than last month and I noticed that they switched from shipping from the Los Angeles area to a distribution center in Kentucky. I guess that could be why, or it could just be poor planning.

The Executive razor only comes with three blades, which makes it a nightmare toward the end of the month just waiting each day to see if my new blades have come in. I’ve already complained about this twice. They either need to tighten up their shipping, or add a fourth razor head to the pack so that we don’t start dying of razor burn out here.

Review quick summary: If like me, you tried the Dollar Shave Club’s 4X razor and hated the experience, upgrading to The Executive might be the right move for you! I tried it and loved the first shave. $9/month and shipped to my door will always beat $20/month and forgetting to buy new blades.

If any of you out there in the men’s shaving world read my last review of the Dollar Shave Club you may remember it was a bit less than flattering. I had ordered the 4X and found that it was basically the razor of the devil. I was more than slightly annoyed by not only how long it took to receive my first razors, but the lack of quality of the blade that seemed most comparable to the Gillette I was using previously.

Being cheap, as established by the fact that I was even pursuing the DSC in the first place, I opted to finish my month of shaving terror versus throwing the razor out and going back to the trusty Gillette razors I’ve used for years. I don’t know if my neck or scalp will ever forgive me.

I also decided that the save might be worth the shave if I tried DSC’s Executive razor. The $9 price tag on the Executive, which has SIX blades and supposedly “comes from the future,” would still be less than the average $16 – $20 that I would spend on one month of Gillette Fusion razors. Again, there is the added bonus of being shipped directly to my doorstep, which just begged to my practical side, to give the Dollar Shave Club one last chance.

Well, how did it go?

Since I described the 4X as being from Hell, if I had one word to describe using the Executive razor from Dollar Shave Club, Heaven.

The handle, whose weight I complained about on the 4X, seemed slightly lighter…but almost unnoticeable. That didn’t matter though as the shave on both my face and on my beautifully shaped head was wonderful. Those six blades really make the difference as they glided across my caramel skin with ease. No fuss. No razor burn.

Razor harmony at last. *angels sing*

Now with the Executive you only get three razors a month, so the real question is, will this razor stand up to roughly 9 days or use on both my face and my head?

Only time will tell…and of course I’ll will be telling all of you.

I hope you found this review helpful!

*** If after reading this you still want to join the Dollar Shave Club, CLICK HERE ***

– Cougar

Is bigger better? The Executive has a slight handle advantage over its four-bladed brother.

Peek-a-boo! Six blades of glory!

Brushes Up, Dude! John Culqui Opening at Nikau Kai

My buddy John is an insanely talented guy. Architect by day, painter by night. More design sense in his pinky than most in their entire body. I really do envy and celebrate the guy.

I first met John six or seven years ago when his then girlfriend (and now wife) whom I worked with introduced us. I loved his style so I asked him to do a piece for my parents 15th anniversary celebrating our family. I then saw three pieces he did for a small show in OC that I had to have.

It took me a few years, but finally I took these off his hands, and now they’re home on my main wall. I would consider myself a fan for life.

Anyway, John threw out the invite to check out some of his newer surf inspired works at Nikau Kai, a fresh surf shop offering by Manhattan Beacher Jason Shanks, a surfing veteran with the shaggiest of locks. No really, look…

Jason Shanks, Owner of Nikau Kai

John was there to do a live painting and hopefully sell some of his work. He had some great new pieces I hadn’t seen before. Check them out and let me know what you think:

Before scrolling down you can check out more of John’s work here: http://www.jsculquiart.com

To Thyself Be True

In expressing your style, representing where you’re from, and everything else in life.

Dear Cougar: The Woman of My Dreams Dumped My Son! What Do I Do?!?

Please leave your questions for Dear Cougar in the comment section below, or feel free to email me at cougar@leftcoastfashion.com

DEAR COUGAR: My son and his wonderful, so I thought, girlfriend just broke up. Actually, she dumped him. Out of the blue, with no warning, she slept with another guy and the next day she told my son it was over.

I am devastated! This is a girl I loved. He hadn’t proposed yet, but my son wanted to marry her. She was going to be my daughter-in-law, the mother of my grandchildren — holidays, birthdays, weekends in the park, the beach, our house, their house, the whole nine yards.

Now I don’t know who has cried more, me or my son. I know it’s none of my business and I have to let these two kids work it out for themselves if there is anything salvageable. But Coug, I’m hurting too.

I’m so tired of people telling me I have “no right” to have an opinion about this, much less express it. I don’t want to call her yet, but maybe someday I’d like to just say I’m sorry this happened. I’m disappointed and would at least like to say goodbye.

I can’t believe I’m never going to see her again. If somehow, by the grace of God, they can put this back together, I will forever keep my mouth shut, but in the meantime, I’m just sitting here … A BROKEN-HEARTED MOM

#

Dear BROKEN-HEARTED:

I hate to say it, but you’re stuck in a twisted fantasy world of a life you never got to live. Perhaps this is your expression of a love like you never had. Perhaps it may truly be your wishes just for your son, either way it is a fantasy world that clearly only you were playing in.

You thought this woman was perfect, yet clearly she is not. More over, she is clearly NOT perfect for your son. She cheated on him and then dumped him! It sounds like either the two of them had problems you never saw, or his now ex was a truly awful person with no soul.

“She was going to be my daughter-in-law, the mother of my grandchildren — holidays, birthdays, weekends in the park, the beach, our house, their house, the whole nine yards.”

SHE SLEPT WITH SOME OTHER DUDE AND DUMPED YOUR SON THE NEXT DAY! You want her as your daughter-in-law? Is that who you want raising your grandchildren? More importantly, is that the kind of love you want for your son?

The focus of this whole issue should be on YOUR son, not his shameful scarlet letter wearing ex. If it were my mother she’d be furious for me and want to go after the girl with a pitch fork (right mom?)!

The fact that you want to call her and apologize someday for this whole thing happening is showing me, and I think the world, a complete lack of perspective…and respect for your own son.

Focus your energy on him. He’s probably deeply wounded if this is as out of the blue as you say it was. More wounded by her betrayal. Help pick him up and get him back on his feet.

I can only hope that his next go round is with a beautiful, wonderful woman that would never betray him in such a disgusting way. That should be your hope too.

– Cougar

Wired for Freedom: A Must Read Tale of Fashion, Accessories and Salvation

So very few times do you meet someone or have a jaw-dropping experience like when I met Sarah Munsey. I had just checked into Fashion Destination Groups Orange Count Extravaganza when a good friend grabbed my attention and led me to check out the different performers, vendors and the all around gorgeous grounds at the St. Regis Monarch Beach.

As we made our way through the short vendor hall my friend stopped me in the presence of a young woman and introduced her immediately as someone I “had to meet” as I had to “hear her story!” And thus I made the acquaintance of one Ms. Sarah Munsey, creator of wired intricacies in the form of bracelets, charming necklaces and assorted rings. She pushed a card in my face and then the jaw dropping commenced.

“I am Wired for Freedom, and this is my story” For 13 years I battled self injury.”

As I read those opening lines I could feel my bottom teeth floating around on the floor below me. The creator of such beauty, such a beautiful young woman herself, was wrapped up in a life of self-deprecation? A life of pain and feelings of worthlessness. How does that happen? I was instantly drawn to her and her story and had to know more. I had connected to her pain, and to her art now and I wanted to share it with others.

I ended up introducing as many people as I could to Sarah that day. I felt like, if she could just put herself out there…naked in a way…people should be paying attention.

Not paying attention to just her story, but to her incredible passion and talent for what she creates. I had to interview her about this.

I asked Sarah for the interview and she was gracious enough to bare her soul to me, and in turn allow me to share it with you.

First, check out her work…

https://www.facebook.com/wiredforfreedom

http://www.etsy.com/shop/wiredforfreedom

Follow her @wiredforfreedom …I’ll warn you, she’s new to Twitter!

If you want to order something email her at srmunsey@cox.net

And now, may I present, WIRED FOR FREEDOM! These are her words, and her story.

LCF: Tell us your story, not from the marketing perspective (like your cool little card), but the emotional story behind your label. As much as you want to share.

SM: Wired for Freedom is more than a business, it’s my life… my story.  For 13 years I battled self injury. Labeled the “good Christian girl,” it made it even harder for me to come out about it. I was raised in a loving home, however it was very strict and I was spanked a lot. In no way do I condemn spanking, children need to be disciplined, but I felt mine went a little too far sometimes. The punishment for my actions, didn’t always match the crime and in my mind, I was a “bad girl.”

Self injury, in my case was used for punishment and control. After my parents spanked me, I would go in my room and beat myself up harder, so that in some sick way I would feel in control. Thoughts of self hatred, suicide, rejection, constantly flooded my mind. I hated myself and every day I deserved to be punished for the mistake I was. I was living a lie… actually I was believing a lie because I was trapped. I literally looked myself in the mirror and screamed, “you ugly, worthless, piece of sh*t, no one loves you, you are a mistake, go kill yourself because no one cares.”

My family was fully aware of my behavior and even witnessed it but they didn’t understand or know how to help. They thought I was being dramatic, feeling sorry for myself, and bringing shame to my family.  So I kept quiet.

When I was 20 I started going to a church with a bunch of recovering addicts and slowly realized I too had a vice I turned to instead of God. With everyone being so open about their struggles, I found the courage to do the same.  After months of being open, I became a youth leader. One night at camp, I shared my story with one of the girls and my life was forever changed. For the first time in my 20 years of life, I met someone with the same struggle. I remember thinking, “wow my story finally has purpose! “ I knew God brought her in my life for a reason and soon discovered there are millions of girls who battle self injury.

I chose to start telling my story on purpose. No longer would I let this dark secret have power over me and keep me quiet. God began to heal me and my relationship with my parents, empowering me to use my story for a greater purpose. The more I shared it, the more young girls God brought in my life. But this wasn’t enough to make me stop. Often times it would trigger me and I almost gave in.

Many people ask me how I stopped; I didn’t seek counseling or go to rehab… it was 100% by the grace of God. He literally rescued me from the deep pit I was in, and healed me. One day I asked God why these girls don’t see how beautiful, valued, amazing, and loved they are. Then he whispered back, look in the mirror Sarah, how come you don’t see it either. WOW, I didn’t expect that. While it was hard to swallow, it was the truth. From there I made a change in my life, these girls were my mirror. How could I expect them to overcome it, if I hadn’t yet? I fully believe once I made that commitment and decided to change, God was ready to bless me with this amazing, incredible gift, I could have never imagined.

The creative aspect of Wired for Freedom started with learning how to crochet. I would sell my creations and use the money to get my youth girls to camp, but after the winter season was over I needed more. Soon after I ended up at another camp as a counselor for abused children, and there I discovered wire. I was hooked on it. I spent the whole week creating rings for all the little girls and my nick name became the “ring girl.” When I returned home I was determined to keep pursuing this wire art I created.

Naturally, I used myself as a model for my creations, and people began to ask about them.  I felt valued that people wanted my art. But, I am a perfectionist, and many times I wanted to give up. It feels like yesterday I sat on the floor in Michaels crying, looking at the beautiful wire jewelry created in these books. I would never be this good. But after much encouragement from God and the people surrounding me I pushed through it. Every time I wanted to stop, an order would come in. I was then reminded of my freshman year at church camp. The pastor called me out of the back row, made me stand up, and told me one day I would be a wealthy entrepreneur. Of course I laughed and thought the man was crazy. But now, it seemed that God did keep his promise, even though it didn’t come into fruition till 7 years later. So I went for it, I knew that if God was on my side, it would be unstoppable.

My uncle and I came up with the name, Wired for Freedom and I began to tag all my creations with “wf”. The adventure continues today. I finally found my niche, my outlet to express myself. I create jewelry, share my story every day, and get to change the world just by being me. Through this, the once scared girl who wouldn’t dare tell her story to anyone, now shares it nearly every day. And more and more I meet people sharing the same struggle.

Wired for Freedom allows me to use my hands to create instead of destroy. No one wants to be trapped behind their struggle, but many are. I stand here today and tell you that we ALL are wired for freedom, and I hope you too find yours.

It has been an amazing journey and God has opened doors I didn’t think were possible. He’s turned my messy past, into a beautiful masterpiece… still in the making.

So I challenge you, whatever your secret is, that’s left you feeling ashamed, worthless, and trapped… stand up and walk into the light. Be free! Don’t allow yourself to be a prisoner to your own past any longer.  Throw those chains off that have held you captive, because YOU, my friend, are WIRED FOR FREEDOM!

Sarah Munsey of Wired for Freedom

How does your creative process work? How do you start and finish projects?

My creative process always starts with prayer. Wire is very harsh on my hands so each morning I pray God would strengthen and protect them. I ask God to show me how to create each piece. Sometimes I don’t think I can pull them off, but I won’t give up.

Then I turn on worship music. Creating is an act of worship for me, and I use it to glorify God. After all, I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t fought for my life. I start sketching on paper (which usually looks horrible, I can’t draw for anything).  I draw different options and once I’m satisfied with the design on paper, I bring it to life using practice wire. This is where trial and error takes place, and also where God taught me a HUGE lesson. Being a perfectionist, messing up used to cripple me. But God showed me how to turn mess ups into a new collection, Beautiful Mess. Just like in life, our mistakes can turn into something beautiful later. So during that period I put all mess ups in a jar. Once I like the design, I begin the final piece.

Now, when I am creating a new piece that I imagined up it’s different. First of all, how I get the ideas, I have no other explanation, except God. I’ll be driving, sleeping, or watching TV and out of nowhere random pictures will pop in my mind!  When I go to bring it to life, I somehow know what it’s going to look like and don’t really practice. Strange I know, and often times I get it the first time! I finish by snapping a photo, packaging, then shipping it out. And that’s how it all goes down in my creative space.

LCF: What can you offer that other designers can’t?

SM: I had to think about this question for awhile! Because other people could probably imitate what I do and every designer has their own story… but it’s not mine. I offer a part of me, Sarah, no one else can offer that.

I’m not going to sit here and try to compare myself to other designers, because I’ve compared myself to other people my whole life and it’s always left me feeling empty, confused and broken. If I started doing that, then I would come up with all the reasons I’m never going to be as good as them and the list goes on.

But seriously, Wired for Freedom is not just a business, it’s not just jewelry. It’s me, my story, my outlet of self expression. God put me in this world for a reason and at this time, not centuries ago, but now…to fulfill a role only I was chosen for. I like to think we are all tools in his huge tool box, and he hand-picks all of us for a special task. Wired for Freedom is mine.

LCF: What are some of your goals for Wired for Freedom?

SM: My goals for Wired for Freedom are just simply to keep growing and getting my story out there. I want to continue to inspire people to be free from their past and to speak up, so they too can help others.

In terms of actual business goals, I would like to start having jewelry parties in people’s homes. I did one over the holidays and it was a great experience. I shared my story, sold my jewelry and got to connect with others and hear their stories as well. I would want the host to pick a non-profit for a portion of the proceeds to go to.

A clothing line is also one of my goals. I designed tanks last summer, that had a collection of positive words I feel girls struggle embracing. They were called “Own It” tanks and were actually a big hit!

Another goal for Wired for Freedom is to grow my Etsy shop. Right now I’ve mainly sold through Facebook, stores, and even via email. A lot of people want me to open a store, but I think a virtual store is good enough!

Once I get too busy to handle orders on my own, I would like to hire young girls. I don’t ever want to mass produce because it takes away the uniqueness from it. The reason I would hire young girls, is because so many of them struggle with identity and I can help them find an outlet for expression by giving them something meaningful to do. Hopefully inspiring them to discover their own gifts and find freedom too!

LCF: If you could see a piece you designed on someone famous, what would it be and who would it be on?

SM: When I began this journey, the thought of a celebrity wearing my jewelry never crossed my mind. While it would be an amazing opportunity I wouldn’t turn down, it isn’t my ultimate goal. I would never “sell my soul” to become a big name designer, that’s not important to me. What’s more important is connecting with people through my story.

For me it’s not about getting my jewelry on a celeb, but more giving a piece to someone I feel I relate to. With that said, I would love to give Demi Lovato a key necklace with the word “free” or “strength”. She’s an amazing, beautiful, and strong young woman whose story has affected so many lives. While I was terrified to come out about my struggle to my own little world, she had the strength and courage to come out to the entire world. I guarantee that was one of the biggest risks she ever had to take and I have the utmost respect for her.

If God eventually blesses me with this opportunity, it wouldn’t be for her to flash around to fans, in hopes of my name getting out there. It would be something personal for her to have, like her tattoo, “Stay Strong,” and would be another constant reminder of the freedom she chose to step into.

LFC: This time next year where do you want to be?

SM: If someone were to tell me 2 years ago that this is what I would be doing, I would have thought they might be sippin’ a little too much on grandpa’s ol’ cough medicine! Well, actually someone did tell me 7 years ago, and I thought they were cray cray!

Seriously though, I never really knew what I should do or the direction I wanted for my life. But now that I’m here and know this is my calling, I trust God has it in his hands. He will take it wherever it’s destined to go; he’s already opened doors I never even imagined would open. I do however hope that by next year I’ll be financially stable enough to move out haha!

But for real. I want to accomplish financial goals in order to meet my personal needs, needs of my family, run a stable successful business, with enough financial increase to help others through donations. By next year, I see myself traveling domestically, selling my jewelry at events and speaking to teen girls about their worth, value, and individual significance.  I want to inspire them to be released into a place of “freedom” to express who they are, through positive outlets.

It may sound cliché, but I want to be changing the world… one heart at a time.

Featured image courtesy of Sarah Munsey. Again, if you want to order something or share something with Sarah, email her at srmunsey@cox.net. All I can say is thank you Sarah for allowing me to share your story and for allowing us to benefit from your creative gifts.