Old School


Tomorrow at 2pm, Susan Pascal, author and the editor of Agoura Hills Patch which brings us up to date local news, will be having a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Westlake Village of her new book Images of Old Agoura.


Book Review (and Giveaway): Lost in Suburbia

lost in suburbia cover

Tracy Beckerman’s Lost in Suburbia started out as an essay in her local newspaper, then it became a nationally syndicated column, then a blog, and now…a book. Forgive me, and Tracy, for using a device that I normally can’t stand*, but this book is a good “momoir.” It’s a self-proclaimed story about how Beckerman went from a stylish TV promo producer living in Manhattan to a frumpy housewife in mom jeans in the Jersey suburbs, and somehow managed to combine the two and keep all the good parts while shedding the not-so-good.

I described this book to one of my friends as “my blog in book form,” because, if you switch out Santa Monica for New York, and the valley for New Jersey, my story is essentially the same. I once was a TV producer, and while I never considered myself particularly stylish, I certainly approached the stay-at-home-mom life and seemingly requisite surrender of my previous persona with nervous disdain. In the early years of this blog I told the tall tales of adjusting to life with less sleep, more spit-up, and the proliferation of plastic toys, while also casting a cynical eye on my peers who were doing the same thing and professing to enjoy it.

(I’m not as publicly cynical now, but ask anyone who knows me in real life and they will tell you that not much has changed in that department. I’m just more sensitive to broadcasting my criticism, which is why I save that for my much smaller audience of Facebook friends.)

Anyway, what Beckerman has done is to essentially summarize the journey of every career-woman-turned-SAHM, which is the subject of countless mom blogs that started in the early 2000’s. She does this in a way that is relatable, funny, self-deprecating (natch), and also hopeful. You see, now Beckerman’s children are almost adults, and so when you’re reading this book you know there is a happy ending. She’s also pretty darn cool, so reading the chapters in which she describes her cellulite-addled body, her mom jeans, and her bad haircut, it’s hard to take those gripes seriously. I’m sure she felt bad about herself at the time – heck, I know that feeling well – but knowing how she turned out, it’s easy to pooh-pooh that phase and say to yourself “Oh Tracy, lighten up.”

tracy beckerman

I mean, LOOK at her.

I enjoyed the bookends to Lost in Suburbia – a suburban stay-at-home mom gets pulled over by a cop. In one instance, she’s at her rock-bottom. In the other, she’s got her act together…almost. The “almost” is why you love Beckerman, all the way through the story.

Lost in Suburbia

I have an extra copy of Lost in Suburbia to give away here. Please leave a comment on this post telling me how your story might relate to Tracy’s between now and Monday, July 29 at 11:59 PM. A winner will be chosen at random from qualifying entries (USA only, please) and I will mail the book at my own expense.

*the device is replacing a syllable of a word with the word “mom.” Ugh. Just…ugh.

I received a free copy of Lost in Suburbia to facilitate this review. And Tracy signed it for me…after I kind of stalked her at her book release party. Swoon.

Get Fresh Meals on the Table With The Fresh 20

Fresh 20logo
My friend Melissa Lanz is just like you. Yes, in the same way that “celebrities are just like you” when caught on film being regular people coming out of Starbucks with their kids. She is a woman, a wife, a mom, and a go-getter. But here is where she is different. Because she recognized the problem of feeding her family healthy meals with limited time in a busy schedule, she came up with a solution that helped not only herself, but anyone else who has the same problem.

And that’s how The Fresh 20 was born.


Or rather the high cost of not being prepared in the kitchen. It was tax time. I added up receipts. I was ashamed. Our busy, unorganized lifestyle had driven us to spend the cost of a brand new car on takeout food. It wasn’t my fault really. There are so many alternatives to cooking at home. If I could microwave it in 5 minutes, we ate it. If someone delivered it, we ate it. And yet, at the end of the year, my energy was low and my healthy living defenses were down. I did what all modern moms do. I went to the Internet well. There are millions of recipes available. There are dozens of meal planning services. I still could not find what I needed. Everyone wants a quick solution, but I just was not willing to serve mushroom soup casseroles or refrigerator dough to my growing family.”

Melissa developed a meal plan that relies on 20 fresh ingredients per week. Supported by the Pantry 20 – or 20 staple ingredients you should always have on hand, and the Kitchen 20 – or 20 kitchen tools that are used all the time, The Fresh 20 assists you in getting a fresh, wholesome meal on the table (or in my case, sometimes standing up at the kitchen counter) for your family, no matter how much or how little time you have to make it.

You can join The Fresh 20 by subscribing to their weekly meal plans that are emailed to you. You can choose Classic, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, or even a lunch plan. It only costs $5 per month. You may scoff at paying for a meal plan but I swear to you it makes a huge difference, especially if you spend a lot of time going through cookbooks and a crazy box of recipes to figure out what to make for dinner this week, or if you are getting bored making the same old things for your family. I sit down once a week and look at our family’s schedule, look at the meal plan I was sent for the week, and pick the meals that are appropriate for the amount of time I will have on any given day. Every day I look at my printout on the fridge and it tells me what to do. “Defrost meat.” “Start crock pot meal in the morning.” Etc. It has relieved me of a burden that I didn’t realize was taking up so much of my headspace.

Book Cover End of Vi#2E49CB

And the even better news is that The Fresh 20 Cookbook is coming out next month! You can pre-order it here. In celebration of the cookbook release, The Fresh 20 is giving away The Pantry 20 – all of the staples that Melissa uses and recommends you keep on hand. If you enter and win this giveaway, BAM. Pantry – handled. All the ways you can enter the contest are mentioned in this video (where you can meet the wonderful Melissa herself):

The Fresh 20 Pantry Giveaway from TheFresh20 on Vimeo.

I am happy about The Fresh 20 for so many reasons. One, because I like Melissa. Two, because her motto is “Shop Once, Eat All Week,” which is basically my motto, only nicer. (Mine is “I’m not going back to the @*&$-ing grocery store until next Sunday.”) Three, because I totally want one of you to win The Great Pantry Giveaway! So go enter!

I was treated to a complimentary meal plan subscription and a sneak peek of the cookbook to facilitate this feature.