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Although I blog every week about pop culture topics and other issues that interest me, my primary focus with my company is promoting authors.
I love reading and working with creative people.   Yesterday I was surprised to hear Amazon’s Associate Program will no longer be available to residents of Minnesota.
The Associate program is a source of supplemental income for bloggers and web site owners.  They advertise books and other products sold by Amazon.  The products are related to the content of the web site.  It’s a program many authors use.
As of June 30, Minnesotans will no longer have access to the program.
Why?  Amazon asserts they are opposed to being required to collect sales taxes from Minnesota residents.
What is shocking about this is America’s highest court, the United States Supreme Court found in Quill v. North Dakota that companies are only required to collect sales tax in the states where they maintain a physical domicile.  Amazon does not have any physical locations in Minnesota.
As a result, by implementing the online sales tax/ solicitor nexus law, the state is circumventing the Supreme Court to obtain more money for the state.
Hopefully this situation will be resolved.

Every day I have two or three app I use.  They are go-to apps that make my life easier, others are where I receive my news and a few are just for fun.   

     Apps that make my life easier:  They help with weight loss, sleep and relaxation.

1.       Weight Watchers-I can’t say enough about this app.  It changed my life.  It helped me understand food and what is healthy. 

2.       Sleep Pillow-If I can’t sleep I turn on this app and I can hear birds, streams, thunderstorms or spa music.  I’m asleep in an instant.

3.       Hotel Tonight-If you need to find a hotel quickly, this app is the best.  They negotiate with hotels in your local area to get the best deals.

  News apps:  

1.       USA Today-Don’t ask me how they do it but this app is free and updated hourly.  I don’t need to actual paper and it is better than the newspaper because they have the latest information.

2.       TMZ-If I need a gossip update I go to TMZ.  Sometimes the stories are about obscure celebrities but sometimes they break major news like the death of Michael Jackson.

3.       AWS-This stands for All Women Stalk.  I discovered it a few months ago and am addicted.  It is basically lists of everything.  If one wants to know how to use coconut oil or how the best summer reads-just search and a list will pop up.

4.       Zite-This app is a newsroom.  One can list a topic and the app will search for stories having to do with that topic.

Other apps:

1.       Kindle-Download this for free on any ipad/iphone and read anything, anywhere.

2.       Urban Spoon-An app for finding the best local restaurants.

3.       Pandora-A free streaming music site.

4.       TiVo-Record a show from anywhere in your home with this app.

5.       Any library app-your local area library will have a free app to put any book on hold.

6.       Flixster-Find reviews for any movie in your area.

7.       Pop Sugar-News stories about topics such as Beauty, Celebrities, Fashion, Food and Home

8.       EW Must List- A list of Entertainment Weekly’s top 10 popular culture programs.

9.       Fast Food-Get listings of calorie counts for every popular fast food chain.

10.   Book Wall-a new app for me.  One can choose categories and get a new book you will love.

“My Weight Loss Journey Part II”

June 13th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

I’m going to continue my weight loss conversation today and I’m focusing on the mental aspect.   When I decided to lose weight, I knew I needed to do it to be healthy.  What took me by surprise was the mental aspect of weight loss.
People started to stare and comment every time I saw them.   Anyone who knew me before the weight loss commented immediately.   I’m fine with them commenting but it is very surprising because our culture is very weight conscious.  No matter how many times one hears about beauty being on the inside, the comments after weight loss are always about looks.
Weight loss affects a person in other ways as well.  It changes how a person feels about themselves or even sees themselves.  For example, I was always heavy.  I’m sure my heaviest tipped the scales at 230/240.  It was a struggle every day to see myself in a positive way but I forged ahead.
After weight loss people see you as a thin person who seems to have all the answers.  The best way to lose weight, the best clothes to buy or even the best makeup and hair products.
Here is the secret:  We don’t know any better than anyone else.  We are really just trying to figure out who we are and how to deal with the new body.   Sometimes I would sit down and think, “How do I not lose who I was before?”
Weight loss is an interesting experience.  It is filled with emotion, physical endurance, willpower and sometimes a lot of guilt.
We will come out with confidence and self-esteem!

Sara

“My Weight Loss Journey”

June 12th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

On April 21, 2012, my life changed.  
That was the day I hit rock bottom.  I needed to lose weight.   I remember the exact moment.  I was at a friend’s wedding and at the reception couples were dancing with their friends, husbands and wives.   Guests old and young were in the arms of the man or woman they loved.
I was a wall flower and could not wait to go home.
I was embarrassed and thought everyone was looking at me and thinking, “What is wrong with her?”
I was thinking that myself but a stronger voice came through.   It said, “I am tired of being on the outside looking in.  I deserve love and will work to get it.”
The next day my sister and I went on a cruise.   That voice and feeling came back.  I did not have anyone to dance with or go see a show.
I was lonely.
I came home and started to lose weight to improve my self esteem.
I joined a weight loss program and started to exercise.
As of yesterday, I have lost 53 pounds and am engaged to be married.  We can all lose weight and change our lives.
Here is what I learned and how I did it.
1.    I decided this was not a diet.  I repeat this is not a diet.   This is truly a lifestyle change.
Now, I love to eat.   I was raised with meat and potatoes, dessert every night and 2 percent milk.  My grandmother cooked from scratch with real sugar, salt and fat.
I needed to change my attitude toward food.   I learned to eat fruits and vegetables as well as how to read nutrition information.
2.    I learned how many calories I needed in a day.   In the past, I had no idea.  I’m sure I was eating 2-4,000 calories per day.  Now, I know I need 1600 to 2,000 to be at a healthy weight.
3.    Do it to be healthy.  Do not do it to get married, get a better job, or to buy better clothing.  They are all by-products of weight loss but do it because it feels good to be healthy.
4.    Track your food.  Every day I track everything I eat.  Even if I fall off the wagon.
5.    Make exercise your routine.   I work out at least 5 times per week for 30 minutes.  I also use weights when I work out.
6.    Find foods that fill you up without high calorie content.  Examples include: almond milk, egg whites, bananas, mushrooms, salmon.
7.    Cut out soda.  I still love diet Coke but my secret to weaning yourself off soda is club soda.  It has no calories and all the fizz of soda.
My weight loss journey will last a lifetime.  I have confidence in how I look and feel but the most important thing I have learned from this journey is to know what is healthy for you and that everyone can lose weight if they follow a routine.
Below are my before and after pictures:

 

Before

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After with my fiance.

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Little Girl Lost

June 6th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Hollywood eats their young and forgets their old.  
In my opinion, this is a very true statement.   Through the years many celebrities have fallen victim to this statement:  From Drew Barrymore to Marilyn Monroe to Judy Garland.   Stars have very high highs and even lower lows.   They may be Academy-Award winning actors one day and the next they are on the cover of tabloids for bankruptcy, drug overdoses or divorces.
Many stars overcome these issues.  Drew Barrymore is a wonderful example of a person being able to overcome her family history of drug and alcohol abuse as well as self-destructive behavior.   She is a new mom, wife and a prolific producer and director.
Other stars were victims of the Hollywood system.  Stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland died too soon and we lost their enormous talents.   They fell victim to the expectations placed on them when in the limelight.  No one is perfect and we want our stars to be perfect.
Yesterday the gossip sites and several TV shows were discussing Paris Jackson.  Many are saying she attempted suicide.  This is 15-year-old girl.  She lost the only parent she knew in her father, Michael Jackson.  She is reconnecting with her mother and getting used to being in the limelight.
This young girl has the weight of the world on her shoulders.   She needs someone to talk with and she needs to be out of the limelight.
Maybe Michael had the right idea when he put masks on his kids when they went out in public.
I wish Paris well and I know she will overcome her troubles.

“Why We Care? Celebrity Gossip and the 21st Century”

June 4th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

I started my blog a few months ago to pose a question: “What are the biggest pop culture stories and why do we care?”
I’m guilty of getting wrapped up in the latest celebrity feud, pregnancy, marriage just like anyone else, but it is amazing to me that we care.
Before the Internet age, a star had to have talent.  They needed to sing, dance and act.  They had to be beautiful.  Movie studios like MGM spent millions to groom actresses like Ava Gardner and Joan Crawford.  They were famous because they made millions for the studios and the audience could not take their eyes off them. They were from another world. Untouchable.
Today, celebrities are not stars.   They are not known for being talented.  They are simply gossip.  The Kardashians are famous based on their antics.  They push boundaries.  They give birth on live TV and have over-the-top weddings that last 72 days.
So why do we care?   In my opinion it is the preponderance of gossip web sites and the downfall of the newspaper gatekeepers.   In the past, a journalist needed two or three sources before releasing a story. Now, a gossip site gets a tip and they print it.   It is faster but is it better?
There is also a need to feed the gossip machine.  Every day web sites need to be filled, 24 hour news stations need news stories and blogs need to be updated daily.   This means people who are not necessarily famous or talented start to get press.
The reality show star is born.  They are willing to feed the machine and as a result because of the amount of news they make, we being to care.
I yearn for the golden days of Hollywood where talent flowed.  If you want to see real talent, check out Turner Classic Movies.  Every day they show Fred Astaire dancing on air, Judy Garland singing like an angel and Cary Grant infusing class into every role he ever played.
See you Thursday!

Happy Thursday Everyone!!

I’ll let you in on a little secret … my fiancé and I love going out to eat.  It’s not the best habit to get into but we love food!  I’ve been meaning to write about our food adventures so, here goes.
I’m going to start with our favorite Minneapolis restaurants.
I don’t have pictures but I will start posting pictures soon.
Here is the countdown….

Number 5:
Buckboard Restaurant in Lakeville:  This is a dive.   Remember the TV show Alice?  That’s Buckboard.  However, do not let the appearance fool you.  The food is terrific!  They serve the basics-hamburgers, malts, great breakfast food.
My favorite:  Egg White omelet with mushrooms, toast and orange juice.
Web site: https://www.facebook.com/BuckboardRestaurant

Number 4:  Zelo, Minneapolis
Great Italian food!  Their décor is a little upscale and artsy but it is intimate and the service is wonderful!\
My favorite:  Mushroom Risotto
Web site: http://www.zelomn.com/

Number 3: Crossroads Deli, Hopkins
If you want a filling meal, go to Crossroads.   They have delicious deli food.  I just had their fish sandwich but they have beautiful breads, pickles, cookies, cakes and ice creams.
My favorite: Bridgeman’s flavor of the day.
Web site: http://crossroadsdelicatessen.com/

Number 2: Pizza Ranch, various locations
Good pizza.  Great chicken and dessert pizza!   I went to Pizza Ranch the first time for the pizza however, I keep coming back for the chicken. Yum! Their chicken is crispy and not greasy.  Delicious!  They staff is friendly and always attentive without being annoying.  Go support your local Pizza Ranch.
My favorite:  Chicken and peach dessert pizza.

Web site: http://www.pizzaranch.com/

Number 1….. Firelake Restaurants, Minneapolis, Bloomington
I was hesitant about including Firelake because I did not want anyone else to know about it.  This restaurant is the best in town and they are not busy.  We never had a bad meal there: breakfast or dinner.  The service is perfect.  They even gave us free dessert for saying it was our favorite restaurant.
My favorite: Rotisserie Chicken with Mushroom soup
Web site: http://www.firelakerestaurant.com/
I’ll be back with more.

Sara

Actress and Singer?

May 28th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

This is the question I’m asking today … Is it just me or is it hard to tell the difference between an actress and a mental patient or a singer and a stripper.
Trust me.. this will make sense.
What do you think of when I say Amanda Bynes?  Five years ago she was known as a Disney (or was it Nickeloden) star.  However, today she is going down the path of Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus?
Over the weekend, Bynes made headlines by throwing a bong out of her 36th floor apartment building window and then she was arrested.   She went to court wearing an odd blonde wig but seemed to be intelligent in front of the judge.
One has to ask oneself, is she creating this drama to become a bigger star?  In today’s world, it is a shame that the biggest stars are the biggest train wrecks.  Bynes has not made a movie or appeared on television in years but she is now in the media every day for outrageous activity.
The scariest result of this behavior is the example it sets to young people.   Instead of seeing Annette Funicello as a Disney role model we see Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears.  Sad.
Next, is she a stripper or singer?
Now, I know many people see Beyonce as a powerhouse singer and dancer.  I personally see her as a curly cue singer.  By this I mean, she does not hold the note.
Last night in Copenhagen, Beyonce was performing and a fan reached up and slapped her behind.  She had him escorted out of the arena.  Now, Beyonce is a millionaire and known for being a world famous singer but I’ve always wondered…. If someone is performing in front of millions in little or no clothing, shouldn’t one expect this from a fan?
I doubt Adele or Barbra Streisand would expect it.
Think about it, Beyonce.

How Refreshing …. Celebrities with an Education!

May 23rd, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

It’s graduation season-a time when twenty-somethings are going out into the world to work at their chosen profession.  However, it is very rare to see a graduate who is older and also successful in another chosen profession.
When I woke this morning, I read an article about one such student.  Eva Longoria, of Desperate Housewives fame, just received a Master’s Degree in Chicano and Chicana Studies from Cal State University at Northridge.  It took her three years and she studied while on the set of “Desperate Housewives.”
How refreshing!  She did not rest on her laurels as a TV star.  Longoria completed her degree the old fashion way.  She worked for it!  Congrats!
In this day and age of “honorary degrees” for celebrities, these celebrities did the work and have actual degrees:
Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal
Doctorate in Education from Barry University
TV star Mayim Bialik
Ph.D in Neuroscience from UCLA
Dr. Ken Jeong, from The Hangover movies
Medical Degree
Musician Brian May
Doctorate in Astrophysics from Imperial College
Sara

Oklahoma City

May 21st, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Moore, Oklahoma.

Sara