What remains / after the fire

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Walking beyond the red tape of what is now a crime scene is surreal.

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Every time you look, you see something new; something you can’t un-see.

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Years of peoples’ lives and memories burnt to ash, just recognizable enough to make you realize what was lost.

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An awkward arrangement of complete loss and random items left mostly unscathed.

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The smell permeating your lungs a week after it has had time to settle.

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Destruction every which way you turn.

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The rubble shifting and crunching beneath your feet, seemingly discontent with its untimely demise.

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And even as you stand and stare at the evidence right before your eyes and beneath your shaky feet, you still can’t believe it.

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You’ve lost count of the times you’ve asked yourself if this really happened.

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And yet here it is, sitting untouched.

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Waiting for answers, waiting for justice.

20% discount for PostalPix

PostalPix Discount

Hell yeah, it’s a discount code for PostalPix.

I mean, maybe I should do more of an intro about it. But TWENTY PERCENT OFF YOUR PURCHASE pretty much sums it up.*

Use the code: undomestic20 on a single order through Wednesday, July 3rd.

(If you haven’t used PostalPix – it’s an app for iPhone or Android that allows you to buy prints – and other photo products – right from your phone. I’ve been using them to print all the bajillion photos I take on my phone since I joined Instagram 1,911 photos ago and they’re pretty rad.)

I don’t do giveaways or ads or whatever normally so if this is one of those then here you go, I am fully disclaiming whatever it is I have to disclaim: PostalPix was like “do you want to give away a discount code on your blog?” And I was like “Uh, yeah!” and here we here. DISCLAIMED.

I hope you use it. Not just because it’s great deal, but because I’m a big proponent of making a habit of printing at least a portion of all those photos we keep imprisoned on our phones.

*I’m obviously pretty awesome at this review/giveaway stuff, maybe I should do more. Heh.

Beginning, again

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I wish I could tell you I’ve been living this decidedly disconnected life offline all this time and that’s why I haven’t been here blogging – but that’s simply not true. In the past seven months, I’ve been connected and online more than ever, professionally bound to the internet seven days a week and side-eyeing my blog like another, lesser commitment I couldn’t make room for.

At times I’ve considered just shutting this whole thing down – I mean, what’s the point of enduring all those damned GoDaddy renewal emails if I’m not blogging anyhow? – but the truth is, I’m a writer and you never stop being a writer even though at times you stop writing.

And now I’m ready to be back here – in this space, my little slice of the internet. Life has finally afforded me the time, the fodder, the desire to write and share and be ridiculous in a way that is frighteningly freeing. And there has been so much change worth writing about: a new job, a new house, so much. In so many ways, I’m beginning again.

Do one thing every day that scares you

Do one thing every day that scares you. - Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s that simple – and that hard.

For the month of November, try something new every day. Big, small, tiny and gigantic – but challenge yourself to not hesitate, to say yes, to do more or maybe do less? But do.

Write all of your accomplishments down – no matter how insignificant they might seem in the moment. If you decide to post about your adventures on your blog, or via Twitter, Instagram or the like use the hashtag #OpEleanor.

You can read more about OpEleanor here and here and even here.

Ready, set, go.

A give-and-you-shall-receive giveaway

If you follow me on The Twitter you might have noticed that I got all philanthropist on you lately in the name of an organization called Feeding America which is doing ridiculously amazing things to help feed families in America. I came across them in Real Simple magazine and while the cause is worthy all on its own, what really struck me was how such a small donation could have such a profound effect on so many.

A $1 donation will help feed 8 families. Eight.

Then I read some of the sickening facts on hunger in America on their site. It was startling. I looked up my local food bank in my area (you can too on the website) and saw just how many pounds of food per year – more than 16 million in my supposedly cozy suburban So. Cal community – are being served thanks to Feeding America and its partners.

Knowing what I know now, I couldn’t not donate.

I have a hard enough time explaining to my boys each year why we donate toys to Toys For Tots and Spark of Love. Why there are some kids who wake up on Christmas morning and don’t have gifts – nevermind families who don’t have food to eat… Right here in our own community. Right here in America.

So today, as we sit down with our families on Thanksgiving, thankful for all we have today and everyday, I’m going to urge you to consider donating $5 to Feeding America so that 40 families who don’t have enough food to eat on any given day, let alone a feast on Thanksgiving, might have something to eat tomorrow because of your generosity.

If just 5 of you donated $5 to Feeding America, that would equal 200 meals for families.

If 20 of you donated $5 to Feeding America that would equal 800 meals for families.

I understand money is tight for so many this year. It’s no different for me. But I know that I can give up a venti holiday drink at Starbucks one time and there is my $5 donation.

To up the ante, I am going to give away a $25 my good friend Emmie and I are giving away a $50 Starbucks gift card to one random person who donates to Feeding America between now and this Sunday, November 27, 2011 ending at 9:00 pm PST. For every $5 donation you make to Feeding America, please leave one comment on this post as an entry. (For example, for a $20 donation, please leave 4 separate comments, etc.)

Please be sure to also visit the fabulous Jett Superior who is my partner-in-crime in this giveaway-goodness, hosting a giveaway all her own on her blog in the name of this fantastic cause.

If you decide to also blog about this cause or if you do a giveaway, please link up below. You can follow Feeding America on Twitter here, following along and re-tweeting by using the hashtag #giveameal.

And if you and your family need help this year, that’s what Feeding America is for. You can find out how they can help you here.

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving.

{Megan}
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UPDATED:

First, a huge thank you to everyone who donated, shared this post, tweeted/re-tweeted, Facebooked and more… Remember that Feeding America needs donations year-round, not just Thanksgiving time, so if you’re looking for worthy causes to support, check them out.

Just from the comments on this post, we surpassed my goal of donating enough money to provide 4,000 meals… donating $530 which provides 4,240 meals to hungry families in America. Additionally, people have tweeted and emailed me without commenting, so who knows just how much we’ve really accomplished. I do know one blogger, who wishes to remain anonymous, donated $700 though her company who then matched her donation ($1400), providing another 11,200 meals alone. Donations big and small, they all count so thank you so much.

I used Random.org to find a winner of the $50 Starbucks gift card…

And the winner is…

Congrats Nicole Elizabeth!

And thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who was so very generous!

Marching for Maddie – Photos

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Couldn't be prouder to be a part of this amazing group of people who showed up early on a Saturday morning to march for Maddie and for babies like her in the Los Angeles March of Dimes Walk.

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No one complained about what time it was. Or about how warm it was. Or how far it was. Everyone was spirited and grateful and humble.

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Even Annie was in the marching mood, ready to take on the pavement.

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And I'm super proud of this dude – my oldest – who is a March of Dimes baby himself; who asked me if he could come along and walk the three miles with me.

You can see all the March for Maddie photos here.

Prints for sale

I've been asked if I ever sell my non-portraity, non-weddingish photographs a number of times and I keep thinking "I ought to" but then again, there's a lot of things I "ought" to do like scrub that crockpot that's been, um, soaking for a couple of days now.

But! Years later, I have finally put up a link to where you can buy a variety of my photographs in varying sizes and even on gifts like mugs or mousepads (do people still use those?) so there's hope for the crockpot yet.

You can buy prints here, however there is a new link sitting pretty (ugly) at the top of this blog where you can always access these photographs and of course others as I add them.

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A few samples from the website (my lovely signature not included in the price of purchase, sorry) that you can buy:

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Yes, there are other, non-flowery photographs up on the site like Times Square in NYC and a pier at a local beach I have hanging in my own hallway. I will also be adding more photos in the days to come and as I take them.

Aaaand the shameless self-promotion ends here. For now.

Eight

I specifically remember the day we had this discussion – the one where you and I discussed staying 7 years old and not turning eight (or nine or ten or…) – in great detail. I suggested taping a brick to your head the way my grandpa used to promise to do to me and you just rolled your big brown eyes, crossed your arms and said defiantly "Mom, I'm turning eight whether you like it or not."

And today you are. Whether I like it or not.

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You've never been one to listen; a quality that has been both a challenge and a secret admiration of mine. Your stubborness makes for some difficult headbutting but also makes me intensely proud of you as you are never a follower, never one to do what's easiest and you are always adamant about doing things your way, even if it means doing it by yourself. You have courage and bravery within you that you're not even aware of and I wish that at your age I could have been half as strong-willed and independent as you are now.

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You are a young man (sigh) in an old man's body with the soul of someone who has been here many times before; wise beyond not just your years, but mine too. Your brain is constantly on; the gears consistently turning and you're humorously wise about holding back just how much you know until the right moment. 

You hide from the camera and warn me "this is not for Facebook" when I am lucky enough to capture you in a snapshot. Yet your sense of humor is profoundly funny when you turn it on -  usually when you're getting in trouble. "Oh c'mon Mom! You know you're laughing on the inside!" I almost always am.

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The world around you as you know it is changing and while I attempt to only expose you to the very minimum, you know better. You haven't simply adjusted – you have stepped up and become the biggest help. At eight years old. I don't know how you know so much at such a young age but what I do know is I couldn't be prouder of you.

E, you are awesome, talented, intelligent and the coolest eight year old I know. Right now, coming from your mom, that probably doesn't mean a whole lot. But hopefully someday it will. 

I love you, dude.

Happy Birthday!

Love,
Mom

Winner of the Tassimo T20. Welcome to your new life.

I have used my Tassimo T20 so much I've already had to buy T Disc refills for it. No joke. And I was happy to see that my Target sells them – right there in the coffee aisle – and they happened to be on sale so DOUBLE WIN!

Anyway, you don't give a damn about me or my refills, you just want to know if you one the Tassimo T20 so let me get straight to it.

Although I would just like to say if I had Oprah's money, I'd buy ALL of you one. (AND YOU! AND YOU! AND YOU!) But I don't so that was just cruel to put that out that there.

Again, I digress.

I used Random.org to find a winner…

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and comment #45 happens to be…

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So congrats to Carmen and WELCOME TO YOUR NEW LIFE! Email me at undomesticdiva(at)gmail(dot)com so I can get all your pertinent information so Tassimo can mail your Tassimo T20 directly to you!

Thank you to everyone who entered.

Also? Oprah, please send me money because I feel bad for the others who didn't win. Kthx.

Updated with video clip: Watch me make an ass of myself. Maybe.

To see the clip on today's Rachael Ray, click HERE.

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Tune in Monday (Dec 27) to the Rachael Ray Show [check here for your local times/listings] to see me make an ass of myself… if they didn't cut me from the segment entirely. Which, you know, they just might have.

Rachael Ray you ask? That's what I said to the producer who called and asked me to tape while I was at BlogHer in NYC this past August. I think I responded with something like, "Um, have you read up on me? Seen my blog? I can't cook…" Then the very peppy producer was like "YES! That's what we love about you!" when really, I think she was hoping I'd burn down the Hilton and grab them some extra publicity because you know what they say – there's no such thing as bad publicity…?

I don't know.

Anyway… Let me know if I make it on there and if you manage to find a clip of it if I do, send me a link because chances are a) I'll forget to watch and b) I still don't know how to work that fancy DVR machine and c) then I can analyze over-and-over again just how awful I look on camera 'cause you know THAT'S ALWAYS FUN.

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Come back here later today when I announce the winner of the super awesome Tassimo T20.