Posted by: cynematic | July 18, 2009

P i l l o w b o o k Picks Review Policy

Welcome. This is where I review books, movies, food, things a mother to a little boy would find helpful, and ways to green your house.

I am picky. Sometimes ridiculously so, or, my standards are absurdly low. Sometimes on the same day.

Hopefully you’ll find information here that’s either entertaining, useful, or both.

If I do a review, I’ll tell you if

  • I paid for the item/service
  • it was sent to me/comped
  • if it was pitched to me by a publicist

If the product or service was pitched to me by a publicist, chances are I was paid to give my honest opinion, or I received some sort of goodie bag in exchange for writing the review that contained my honest opinion. I view that transaction much as country doctors used to do: products are a payment of a sort for services rendered. But it doesn’t change the diagnosis or the status of the patient.

Read all about my preferences and some of my past reviews here.

And if you still think I’d be a good match for reviewing your product or service, contact me at cyn3matic (at) gmail (dot) com.

Posted by: cynematic | May 6, 2011

Tiny Prints Cards, for the Moms in tha House

Tiny Prints for Mother's Day cards

Tiny Prints cards, including Thank You cards

So we were ready to revel. I had beautiful Mother’s Day sample cards set out. There were pretty Thank You cards included as gifts to the guests.

L'il sliders

The catering arrived. Mmmm, bbq.

Ahhhh, wine

But wait!

We had an old school corkscrew that no one had the upper body strength to use properly!

Crisis! Surely moms of a different era were accustomed to drinking alcohol and had real corkscrews on hand!

And, lo! we had plastic juice cups instead of wine glasses!

I guess you can tell we are, uh, infrequent wine drinkers.

All's well that ends well

I walked the women through the gorgeous selection of cards. Each one had been given a special discount code so they could create their own card on heavy paper stock, with patterns, colors, and photos of their choice. With Tiny Prints, you customize the cards the way you like, then they mail them out for you direct.

My friends all got chair massages.

The Herman Munster look

My husband got his nails done.

And then, we all had red velvet cake.
Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!

Posted by: cynematic | May 1, 2011

Tiny Prints Mother’s Day Cards

It’s a rite of passage: the macaroni-glued, glittery card I made for Mom, once upon a time.

When Tiny Prints reminded me of those childhood memories, and invited me to host a party featuring their beautiful custom Mother’s Day cards, I immediately agreed.

When I heard it could be a gorgeous Tiny Prints + Clever Girls Collective party with an opportunity to create and personalize cards for the special moms I know, and include the kind of pampering moms want — in-house manicures and professional masseuse available for chair massages — I leaped at the chance.

I don’t often get an opportunity to hang out with some of my favorite bloggy women. Weekday nights are usually for catching up with my kid’s doings during the day, overseeing homework, and following up with the shower/toothbrushing/bedtime routine. And I really did vacillate between inviting everyone’s families and just having my women friends over.

A sample of the Tiny Prints Mother's Day cards

Ahhhh, wine

In the end, the chance to treat women I know with a relaxed, catered meal and wine — lots of wine — was just too tempting to resist. It was nice to take a minute to focus on our own pleasure, even as we talked about Mother’s Day cards we made for our own moms. And as it happens, it was a lovely event and I wish the evening could’ve gone on into the wee hours.

Stay tuned to find out what the cards look like, and how we survived the Great Corkscrew Disaster that was a speedbump to our revelry.

Posted by: cynematic | December 8, 2009

Steaz Teaz, They Pleaz!

It’s not every day you get to have lunch with the founder of an up-and-coming company that does business all over the United States. But about a month back, I was invited to lunch with Eric Schnell, one of the co-founders of Steaz Teaz. My buddies Los Angelista and Socal Mom were there too, and that made it more fun. Steaz is a beverage company that adds organic, fair-trade tea or all-natural energy boosts to fruit juice, with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. There’s a nice combination of flavors and you can get the drinks in sparkling or flat.

Now, I missed the whole Starbucks/coffee craze. So I’m thrilled to have a new selection of beverages on store shelves that I’d actually drink. And most appealingly to me, Steaz is what Schnell calls a “triple-bottom-line” company.

Now as much as I’ve blathered on in this blog about how we don’t buy this or that, what you might miss is that once I find a product I like, I am insanely loyal. It’s just that I’m pretty particular about what I’ll be loyal to. Most companies pay scant attention to the quality of ingredients used, the care or craftsmanship in making a product, and pursue the most shortsighted bottom-line driven ways of manufacturing and shipping their goods, usually in a way that damages the environment. Speed plus sloppiness plus carelessness, all in the name of bottom-line pressures, often add up to a large carbon footprint. Who wants to be loyal to that?

But ever since I learned about Paul Newman’s delicious salad dressings, popcorn, and sweet and salty snacks, I’ve been a loyal consumer. I like what Paul Newman has stood for throughout his life and work, and he was among the first to create a market for, and thus develop a supply chain, foods made with organic ingredients. I like that it’s a family business. I can find the items in most groceries, although the widest selection tends to be in Whole Foods. And this is what I like about Steaz’s “triple bottom-line” company policy:

  1. the company goes through the trouble of buying carbon offsets to make a carbon-neutral footprint, covering the environmental cost of transporting organically grown teas from growers around the world,
  2. it also ensures all raw grown ingredients are fair-trade certified. Steaz is happy to provide these certifications on all their drinks,
  3. plain old profitability for the company’s workers.

I’m glad to see they’re now in Target stores all around the country! It’s not iced-tea season here yet, but I’ll be sure to drink some when it gets hot this summer. Because it’s nice to enjoy something that’s guilt-free.

Posted by: cynematic | November 11, 2009

Xmas came early! Sample products from Simple Human.


Excuse the iPhone autofill typos

Posted by: cynematic | August 3, 2009

Got Milk? We Drink Your Milkshake


My son drinks your milkshake

I’m not going to bury the lede:

My son accidentally zinged a Got Milk? frisbee off the head of the president of the California Milk Processors Board at a Got Milk? event. Color me mortified. The head of the trade group–i.e., our HOST– was extremely gracious, and offered that he has small kids of his own.

When I asked the president of the California Milk Processors Board what milk his kids drank, he answered that his wife gives “hormone- and anti-biotic free organic milk” to his own young children. I gently pointed out the milk used at the milkshake event was hormone- and antibiotic-full, and presumably not organic…and that for a lot of moms, especially of young kids, organic milk is a “gateway drug” to other organic foods and healthier eating. He said, That may very well be. Certainly his own wife had those kinds of concerns. But his job as head of the California Milk Processors Board was to promote all milk producers in the state, and the organic milk farmers were but a few producers out of all. So it would be favoritism if he promoted one kind of milk over another.

Hmmm. (Both AmysFunny and Bernadette Batts were there, they can vouch for my paraphrase! Right ladies?)

I guess you could say my son and I gave him the socially gauche double-whammy. You know what? I’m gonna own it. I live to ask all the embarrassing questions you want to ask, but are too …something… to ask.

Read More…

Posted by: cynematic | July 30, 2009

Cookin’ at the Freesy: Fresh & Easy/Sur la Table

I’ve had my eye on the Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Markets grocery chain, a US outgrowth of the British chain Tesco, for quite some time…ever since they announced they’d launch in SoCal. (So had then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.)

Why? They had a stated strategy of wanting to build stores in underserved or ignored neighborhoods where the few other options might be a liquor/grocery store or an understocked, produceless discount grocer. As I understood the PR spin, Tesco was going to try to build a business bringing low-cost good quality food to people in moderate-to-low income neighborhoods; those neighborhoods are often “food deserts.” Good nutrition becomes a structural impossibility when healthy foods simply aren’t for sale where you live and shop. Also interesting to me was Tesco’s proposal to locate their processing and food prep operations in Segundo/Riverside, bringing lots of jobs to the Inland Empire.

I was a little surprised to be invited to a PR event introducing Fresh & Easy to a group of Los Angeles bloggers, but decided to go out of curiosity.

F&E, or Freesy, as we call it, has indeed ambitiously opened stores in a lot of communities around me–not all of them in upscale neighborhoods. There’s one near my parents’ retirement community in Orange County. There’s one near me in a community a couple of miles south, another in Pasadena, another in a working class community in the Eagle Rock area.

My loyalties mostly lie with Trader Joe, the organics line at Vons, my local farmer’s market, and I love the meats/fish and produce at Whole Foods. Not in that order. Yes, I realize Whole Foods is far from saintly. TJ’s too. However, in the categories I just mentioned, and for selection of obscure organic food/health & beauty products, the inventory is pretty comprehensive and high quality.

As for Freesy? Honey, you confuse me.

Read More…

Recently I attended a little PR event held by PBS at our local public tv station, KCET. (It used to be a film studio in the early days of Hollywood, back when DW Griffith filmed in Griffith Park and was based in Silver Lake.)

SuperWhy characters L-R: Alpha Pig, Wonder Red, Super Why, Princess Presto

SuperWhy characters L-R: Alpha Pig, Wonder Red, Super Why, Princess Presto

The purpose was to let blogging moms know that PBSKids has a number of shows that are educational, commercial-free, and vetted by numerous children’s math, science, and literacy consultants so when your kids 2-5 years old watch them, the experience isn’t brain rot. Instead, kids often learn quite a bit from the programs.

Now even though I fit the profile of a parent who’d be pleased to have my child watch PBS programs, it took my kid to turn 5.5 years old before he seriously watched any PBS shows on broadcast tv.

Read More…