Best Things of 2015

Written by Lotus on Saturday, 19 of December , 2015 at 10:24 am

It’s been a crazy year, but a lot of cool stuff happened.  Here’s a list of my favorite things, discoveries and moments of 2015.

“Charlie Work” episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season 10)

This episode showcased the genius of Charlie Day and the other actors and writers of It’s Always Sunny.  To be honest, all the episodes this year were good, but since this one is centered around Charlie it has to be my favorite.  The 11th season of the show premieres on January 6, 2016.

Political Punks Podcast

Artist Brett Smith and I started a podcast!  We’ve had some great guests, including Greg Gutfeld, Chuck Dixon, Terry Schappert and Thaddeus McCotter.  We also have more fun interviews lined up for 2016. Check out past episodes at www.politicalpunks.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher.  My February column explains the political punks philosophy and graphic.  You can buy the shirt and other gear here.

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Disturbed covers Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”

I only discovered this song a week or two ago and I swear I’ve already listened to it 100 times.

Books by Friends

I featured many of them in my column on books to give for Christmas.  Check them out here.

Whole 30

I recently discovered the Whole 30 movement.  I haven’t done my 30 day detox yet, but I’ve been slowly preparing for it by eating more whole (get it?) foods and cutting out sugar.  What I like about this way of eating is that you don’t have to worry about measuring anything… and you can have bacon and homemade mayo. What I don’t like (and why I haven’t started the detox yet) is that I will probably have to cut out my morning Diet Coke.  I’ve been following #Whole30 on Twitter to see other people’s experiences and recipes.  The program’s book also has some great recipes.

Dog Selfies

Dog Selfie Collage

Gooey Butter Cake

The greatest thing to come out of St. Louis.  The Ann and Allen Baking Company delivers this moist, buttery concoction directly to you.  They have several amazing flavors, but traditional and Amaretto are my favorite.  Order here. Let me know if you need my address.

Be Brilliant Bags

I love using this bag when I travel.  It has pockets for all your tech stuff (laptop, iPad, phone), as well as room for your purse contents.  It also has a compartment on the bottom for an extra pair of shoes.  My tip: You can also fit an umbrella in there.  My favorite color is rose gold.  Remember, metallics are neutrals!  Buy it here.

Bruce Campbell is So Hot Right Now

In my mind he’s always hot, but in 2015 he was everywhere.  His iconic character returned in the Starz show, Ash vs. Evil Dead.  He played Ronald Reagan on FX’s Fargo.  One person described that episode as Bruce Campbell fanfic written by me.  If only I was that clever.  He also continued to make the conference circuit.  Fingers crossed I can finally meet him in 2016.

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Peg Leg Vintage Goods

I discovered this store right as Mad Men was ending.  Looking at the photos has been the methadone I needed to get through the withdrawal.  (Side note: The perfect final episode of Mad Men also helped.)  Peg Leg has great vintage furniture, but some of the best finds are the knick knacks and smaller items.  Also, if you see a pair of chairs you like, buy them. Pairs don’t last long.  The owners are really nice and willing to make deals.  Check them out here.

Traveling

This year I managed to get in two trips to Palm Beach, two to Rehoboth Beach, one to Los Angeles, and a couple to Arizona.  Here are recommendations from each place.

Palm Beach

  • Four Seasons Palm Beach.  If you can’t stay there the entire trip, at least buy a one-day beach pass (under $200).  It includes a one-hour massage at their spa and cabana service at their pool or beachfront.
  • Tate’s Comics, Boynton Beach. I’m not into comics, but the art gallery upstairs was really cool.
  • Buccan. Try the pork belly empanadas and watermelon cocktail.
  • Second-hand stores.  What other city has Louboutins at their Goodwill???

Rehoboth Beach

  • Kilwin’s. Try the drinking chocolate served in a small espresso-type cup. Richer than hot chocolate and the perfect way to end the day.
  • The Avenue Spa and Apothecary. The spa services are great.  They also have a hotel above.  It’s a little noisy for me in-season since it’s on the main drag, but perfect for a winter or fall trip.

Los Angeles

  • Drive down Sunset Blvd. You get the feel of being in LA without having to navigate through the crowds.
  • Canter’s Deli. It’s been featured in Mad Men and Curb Your Enthusiasm, but none of that matters.  The food (and bakery) is awesome.
  • Fly into Burbank, not LAX.

Arizona

  • Any art festival in Tucson.
  • Culver’s. I realize this is a chain, but the only time I get to go there is when I’m in Arizona.
  • Drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix.  You’ll see snow-capped mountains, lush forests and the desert in three hours or less.
  • Old Town Scottsdale.  Go to Twice to shop for high-end accessories, The Sugar Bowl for ice cream, and any of the souvenir stores for classic southwest kitsch.

There are a couple days left, so I may add a few more things I forgot or some other cool stuff that happens!

Hat tip to Kevin Glass for the idea of a “Best of” list.

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Category: LOTUS Recommends,Random Stuff,Shameless Plugs,Things I Want

Heated Debate in Arizona!

Written by Lotus on Wednesday, 5 of August , 2015 at 5:19 pm

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Here’s a sneak preview of my latest Breitbart column.

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Category: Random Stuff

Special Offer for USO Donations!

Written by Lotus on Thursday, 9 of July , 2015 at 9:21 pm

ldp_uso3.jpg

Click here to buy

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Category: Random Stuff

Gen Xers v. Baby Boomers

Written by Lotus on Sunday, 5 of July , 2015 at 8:50 pm

A preview of my latest column at Breitbart.com.

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Category: Random Stuff

Harf to the Rescue!

Written by Lotus on Wednesday, 25 of March , 2015 at 7:32 pm

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More on this soon.  Special thanks to Brett R. Smith for the awesome graphic.

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Category: Random Stuff

Political Punks Gear!

Written by Lotus on Sunday, 15 of March , 2015 at 4:09 pm

political-punks-shirt.jpg

By popular demand, the Political Punks graphic with Ann Coulter, Greg Gutfeld, Clint Eastwood and Gavin McInnes is now available on t-shirts!

There are several options available for men, women and babies.  Click here to buy.

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Category: Random Stuff

Best Things of 2014

Written by Lotus on Sunday, 28 of December , 2014 at 9:00 pm

I decided to shamelessly steal from Kevin Glass, my editor at Townhall.com.  He’s been posting #BestThingsof2014.  It’s a nice break from all the negative news of 2014.  So, here’s my list of best things of 2014.

Discovering Charlie Day 

As you’ll see, this list is specific to me.  I’m sure all of the people much smarter than me discovered Charlie Day (and Charlie Kelly) much sooner.  After watching “Horrible Bosses” I thought Charlie Day’s appeal was elevated because of Jennifer Aniston’s character being obsessed with his. Then I watched all nine seasons of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (FREE on Amazon Prime, btw) in about two weeks and realized the Charlie Day appeal is real.  He gives great comedy, great interviews, and great commencement speeches.  Rock, Flag and Eagle!

Finding Mr. Righteous Selling Out at CPAC

Obviously it was pretty cool that my first book, Finding Mr. Righteous, was published in February of 2014.  However, one of my favorite moments in 2014 was selling out at CPAC.  I returned to CPAC after, ahem, leaving in 2011.  My life has had some ups and downs since then and I was nervous about returning.  I was fortunate to be invited to do a book signing and grateful to my friends and everyone else who came to the signing.  After all the drama surrounding me and CPAC for the last couple years, it meant a lot to finally leave on a high note.

Fundraising Goes Viral

For all the headaches caused by social media, it’s wonderful to see how much good it can do to raise money for worthy causes.  The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was certainly one of the most successful ones.  Another was the Liberty in North Korea fundraising effort after Sony temporarily pulling “The Interview.”  Rather than get frustrated at why this cause or that cause deserves as much attention and money, take comfort in knowing that we all have use of powerful social media tools.

Every Simpsons Ever

Christmas came early when the FXX network had a 12-day marathon of every episode of “The Simpsons.”  That’s 552 episodes.

Chris Pratt Becomes a Huge Movie Star

Everything I’ve heard about Chris Pratt this year makes me glad that he’s become a famous movie star.  He seems like the kind of guy who deserves it and truly enjoys it.  Here are just a few reasons.

I Got to Be on Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld!!!!!!!!

Ok, this should really be at the top of the list but I didn’t want to seem too full of myself.  I’m a Red Eye superfan.  To be honest, it’s the only Fox News show (ok, any “news” show) that I watch from beginning  to end.  I’ll be making my fifth appearance on February 12/3 a.m. on February 13.

All About That Bass

Many have already proclaimed 2014 to be the Year of the Booty.  Whether you’re pro-booty or anti-booty, we can all agree that Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” is pretty catchy.

Arizona

This year I’ve had the opportunity to spend a little bit more time in Arizona.  Growing up in Florida I’ve heard about the mythical “dry heat.”   I’m a little weird when it comes to temperature.  I like it hot.  For example, I don’t turn on the A/C in the car when it’s 90 degrees outside because I spent the day being cold in an office.  I immediately turn up the temperature in every hotel room.  I monitor the temperature in Palm Beach during the winter just because it helps me get through winter knowing that it’s warm somewhere.  So, me and Arizona?  We got along just fine.  Well, except one little bump in the road.  The people of Arizona are also pretty cool.  They just elected Republican Doug Ducey, former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, as governor.  I heard a couple Republicans won in other states, too.

My Name on a Diet Coke Bottle

This one I’m definitely stealing from Kevin Glass.  It was a fantastic marketing campaign.  I found my name three times.  I intended to save one, but drank them all.

Salted Caramel Everything

Some may say 2014 was the year of the booty, but I say it was the year of salted caramel everything.  I’m not complaining.  It’s everywhere.  It makes something like Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate seem exotic.  It makes you not feel guilty about buying a $10 Vosges chocolate bar.  It elevates everything it touches.

The Blacklist

James Spader is amazing as ‘Red’ Reddington.  I’m usually a late-bloomer (see “It’s Always Sunny…”) when it comes to TV shows.  If it’s on a premium channel, I haven’t seen it.  To this day I’ve only seen the last 15 minutes of the “Breaking Bad” series finale.  I seem to be the only person in DC who hasn’t seen “House of Cards.”  So, I’m pretty proud of myself for getting on the Blacklist bandwagon early.

Dinner at Flip Burger in Atlanta

Probably the best meal I had this year was at Richard Blais’s Atlanta restaurant, Flip Burger.  I started with a Nutella and Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake.  Then my date and I split the pimento cheese wontons.  For my entree I had the Southern burger — a country-fried burger patty topped with pimento cheese and Coca-Cola ketchup.  I prefer to skip the bun because it just gets in the way.  When I went back to Atlanta for my birthday, I stopped by again just for the milkshake.  Good stuff.

Liz’s Wedding

My friend Liz had an amazing Pinterest-inspired wedding that, I have to say, was totally overshadowed by the beautiful bride.  There are some rom-coms that give me the warm fuzzies, but seeing Liz and her new husband and their commitment to one another really makes me believe that happy endings are possible.

***

So, that’s the best of 2014.  Since there are still a few days left, I’ll probably add a few more.

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Category: Random Stuff

35 Things I’ve Learned Over the Last 35 (Sigh…) Years

Written by Lotus on Wednesday, 7 of November , 2012 at 9:15 pm

To celebrate my birthday this Friday, I thought I’d put together a list of things I’ve learned over the years. Some are funny, some are serious.  I hope all are somewhat useful!

1. If your message in an email, text or phone call is a gussied up version of “F*** You!” don’t send it. Unless you’re willing to actually say “F*** You!”

2. It’s ok to not have plans on Friday night.

3. The average dog is a better person than the average person.

4. Rather than dieting, practice the principle of “diminishing returns.” In her book, Betheny Frankel explains that it’s ok to taste and try everything. But stop after it’s no longer pleasurable. Rather than plowing through a candy bar or steak just to finish it, stop when you’re no longer enjoying it.

5. Invest in high thread-count sheets. Mine are Egyptian cotton, 1200 thread-count from Macy’s.

6. A new outfit, haircut or eyeshadow won’t change your life. But it might lift your spirits for a few hours or a few days and sometimes that’s enough.

7. Send hand-written thank you cards within two weeks of receiving a gift or good deed.

8. Make Cheez-Its from a scratch. They are amazing. Here’s a really good recipe: http://www.cookingalamel.com/2012/04/homemade-cheez-its.html

9. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you believe, but it takes even more courage to admit when you’re wrong. One of the most difficult things I’ve done is admit that I was wrong when I denied the existence of God and the power of faith.

10. When people who love you seem to be sending silly emails or calling you for silly reasons, indulge them. They might be lonely and just want to talk.

11. Have a set of recipes that you do really well and share them with friends.

12. Twitter and Facebook aren’t real life. People aren’t as popular, rich, fun, and perfectly posed as they appear to be. Thank, God.

13. If The Godfather (I or II) are on TV just watch it. No need to channel surf as there is nothing better on TV.

14. Bangs are cheaper and sexier than Botox.

15. If you’re writing something that will be seen publicly, ask at least one person you trust to read it first. Also, be open to their corrections. Having someone edit your work usually makes you look better.

16. It’s ok to say “I don’t know.” Often people will give a BS answer rather than just admit they don’t know.

17. Use produce from Trader Joe’s within 24 hours. I’ve wasted so much money on the good intentions of using fresh fruit and vegetables. I love Trader Joe’s, but the fact is their produce comes from thousands of miles away (for East coasters) and doesn’t last as long as other grocery store produce, which is more likely to come from closer sources.

18. Manicures only look good for 48 hours.

19. Guys will tell you who they are. If he says he’s a jerk, a bad boyfriend, drinks too much, or anything else that seems like a warning, wish him well and walk away.

20. You find out who your real friends are during your lowest points in life, not your highest points.

21. Substitute butter-flavored Crisco for butter in all cookie recipes.

22. There is no substitution for Diet Coke. Or Hellman’s mayonnaise.

23. I do not respond well to people who use guilt to provoke my actions. It’s best to just state your reasons for what you want to do in a non-confrontational way and let them have their moment to sulk.

24. I wish I would have purchased pet insurance.

25. Life is too short to eat fat-free cheese.

26. You can’t take too many pictures of your dog. And don’t feel silly for backing up the repetitive photos, too. A few years ago my digital camera was stolen from my suitcase and I lost hundreds of photos of my now deceased dog, Buster.

27. Bruce Campbell is underrated as an actor… and sex symbol.

28. It’s ok to not finish a book if you’re not enjoying. If you’re not reaching for it when you have a spare moment, move on to another book.

29. Keep negative people at arm’s length. Don’t let them suck you in to their negative view of the world.

30. Do everything you can do avoid college loans. Go to school in-state, work, go to community college for the first two years. If you’re a parent, pay into the state-sponsored college fund. I’m so thankful that I never had school loans. Thanks to scholarships, working at least 30-40 hours a week, my parents paying into a college fund and doing my freshman and sophomore years in one year at a community college I was able to avoid school loans. Never taking out college loans is literally the best financial decision I’ve ever made.

31. The younger a person acquires publicity, the more entitled they feel to continue getting it. Whether it’s actors, singers, writers, or pundits once they’ve been in the spotlight they expect to stay there regardless of their own efforts.

32. Don’t wear a low-cut or sleeveless shirt or dress to the gun range. Nothing is more awkward (or dangerous) than trying to fish out a hot shell from your cleavage with a loaded firearm in hand.

33. Don’t think you’re too good to do menial office work. If you get the boss’s lunch, you’ll get a few extra minutes with the boss and show that you’re a person who can deliver on a task. Also, check that the order is right before you bring it back to the office.

34. Chick-fil-A is the only fast food worth eating.

35. Make lists. They make you feel like you can accomplish anything.

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Category: Let's Get This Party Started,Random Stuff

Things I’ve Learned from Pinterest

Written by Lotus on Thursday, 11 of October , 2012 at 1:38 pm

Fashion

That old t-shirt is best used as a dusting rag. Not a scarf. Not a “cute new top.”

Pinterest Board

Apparently, I should have been wearing boot socks all this time.

Everyone does their nails (except me).

Everyone has a wedding board (except me).

Everyone wears scarves (except me).

Click-bait makes me angry. If the link doesn’t go to the store where you can buy an item, I’m not pinning it. I don’t want to aspire to own those shoes. I want to own those shoes.

Food

People are obsessed with recipes with pumpkin and making food look like a pumpkin.

Anything can be made in a crockpot. Anything.

I will repin any recipe with the words “Salted Caramel” or “Nutella” in the title.

Cauliflower is not a suitable replacement for anything. No potatoes. Not pizza crust.

People love “copy cat” meals. I just don’t understand why people want to copy anything from Olive Garden.

Sandra Lee is just lazy.  Busy women (and men) on Pinterest make their own seasoning mixes, brownie and cake mixes, and freezer meals. 

Crafts

“Take an old…” projects are almost never worth it. (Also, see old, t-shirt above)

Anything can be made into a chalkboard.

Animals

People are serious about dog breeds. Don’t you dare say that English Cream Dachshund is a Golden Retriever and Dachshund mix!  One woman’s quest (she’s commented on pins of same dog several times).

The only thing better than a photo of a sleeping puppy is a photo of many sleeping puppies.

And, finally, that this is possible.

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Category: Fashion,Food,Random Stuff

My Oscar Picks

Written by Lotus on Sunday, 26 of February , 2012 at 5:56 pm

Like last year, I made a concerted effort to actually see several of the movies nominated this year.  I still haven’t seen some of the big ones (The Artist, The Descendents, Ides of March), but I feel good about making educated picks this year.  Of course, I’m still going to hedge my bets by once again picking who should be the winner and the likely winner.

Best Picture
My Pick: The Help (My real pick is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II)
Likely Winner: The Artist

Actor in a Leading Role
My Pick: John Dujardin, The Artist
Likely Winner: John Dujardin, The Artist

Actress in a Leading Role
My Pick: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Likely Winner: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Actor in a Supporting Role
My Pick: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Likely Winner: Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Actress in a Supporting Role
My Pick: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Likely Winner: Bernece Bejo, The Artist

Animated Feature Film
My Pick: Rango
Likely Winner: Rango

Cinematography
My Pick: War Horse
Likely Winner: The Artist

Art Direction
My Pick: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
Likely Winner: Midnight in Paris

Costume Design
My Pick: Hugo
Likely Winner: Hugo

Directing
My Pick: Martin Scorcese, Hugo
Likely Winner: Martin Scorcese, Hugo

Music (Original Score)
My Pick: The Artist
Likely Winner: The Artist

Music (Original Song)
My Pick: Man or Muppet, The Muppet Movie
Likely Winner: Man or Muppet, The Muppet Movie

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
My Pick: Moneyball
Likely Winner: The Ides of March

Writing (Original Screenplay)
My Pick: Bridesmaids
Likely Winner: Midnight in Paris

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Category: Random Stuff

Author

LOTUS lives in Northern Virginia. NOTE: The views expressed on LOTUS blog are the author’s alone. Organizations listed on this blog are for identification purposes only.