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When Tara Met Blog
Monday, July 16, 2007
Pinkberry is the new yogurt, or is it?

I moved out here along the time of the Pinkberry craze. I had heard of the long lines outside of the dessert shops and kept meaning to try it and then finally two sprouted up near my hood in the Westside. 

Raphael and I went this weekend and yes, there was a line but it went quick. The store is small and narrow similar to NYC's Tastey Delight stores (minus the kick ass chocolate flavors). However, the shops are very modern and Hello Kitty-ish in style. The branding is everywhere from their fun colorful logo to brainwashing songs that play on the radio spelling out Pinkberry in a girlish voice--very weird. They also have cool lights and weird kitchen objects on display and for sale. 

pinkberry counterpinkberry yogurt

I think the reason why they have been so successful in L.A. is because of the buzz (some good PR work there!), long lines and low fat "yogurt" credibility. At 25 calories per ounce, a small serving (5 oz) has 125 calories, a medium serving (8 oz) has 200 calories, and a large serving (13 oz) has 325 calories.

I put "yogurt" in quotes before because there is debate if Pinkberry is a yogurt or not. The Los Angeles Times sent samples of Pinkberry's product to a lab and revealed that Pinkberry did contain active yogurt cultures, but it does not contain the minimum amount of culture to call itself frozen yogurt, according to California state law. The company may be forced to reveal its recipe. Meanwhile, Pinkberry has removed all references to frozen yogurt from its website and marketing materials. The health benefits that were previously posted on the walls of Pinkberry (e.g., cures colon cancer, fights yeast infections) have also been removed. Another controversy, which LA Eater furthers is that Pinkberry stole their idea from Red Mango. 

Anyway, back to the ... let's call it a dessert, is tart and actually tastes like real yogurt, thus my suprise to hear that it isn't. It tastes healthy, if that's possible, and the toppings are an array of fresh fruit, dried cereals (Fruity Pebbles and Capn' Crunch) to crumbled Oreos and granola. Pinkberry comes in only two flavors, original, which is just plain yogurt tasting and green tea, which is green colored and tastes like grass. My vote is with the original, which I then topped with fresh pineapples and blueberries and Raphael got his with kiwi, raspberry and mango (he's the more adventurous foodie). Anyway, we both liked it and found the yogurt refreshing, the lines amusing and the Pinkberry jingles annoying. I'll stick with my Jamba Juice.

By the way, my friend Zendi scooped me (pun intended) with her review of Pinkberry, which she posted a few months ago. 

News: The taste that launched 1000 parking tickets - Los Angeles Times

Posted by Tara at 1:55 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, July 16, 2007 2:11 PM PDT
Thursday, July 12, 2007

Should I blog about this or not? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself since this whole thing started. In answer to my question, Raphael said “I don’t know this is pretty personal, but then again your blog is about you.” So here I go.

Last week I had a colposcopy, not to be confused with a colonoscopy. My pap had come back abnormal and showing mild dysplasia, so they wanted to remove some pre-cancerous biopsies from my cervix to examine the extent of the abnormalities. I was of course stressed about it going into it and the entire week prior. I was told they would put vinegar on my cervix to examine trouble spots, then do a needle extraction and scrape my cervix all while I was there awake, spread eagle. The procedure was uncomfortable to say the least and it didn’t help that I fainted during it and woke up confused and in pain on an examination table. They had to use smelling salts to revive me. Raphael was there to take me home and for the next several days I experienced some cramping and bleeding. I also couldn’t workout for a week. But I at least thought the coloscopy would have been the end of it.

Anyway, my cells were sent to the lab and a week later I got a call from my doctor (not the assistant but the doctor herself, not a good sign) and she said that the results came back higher than she liked and now it looked like I had severe dysplasia and needed another procedure done immediately. So now I have to get a LEEP done in August, which removes parts of my cervix with lasers in a sort of an electrical wire loop. Lovely. Luckily, this won’t affect my future child bearing, however women who’ve had this procedure usually have weaker cervixes and earlier labors, which given my frailness I’m sure would have been the case anyway. For this procedure the full recovery time is six weeks (no hot tubs, no tampons, no …) but this will hopefully prevent the pre-cancerous cells from getting any worse and turning into the C word. This has to be done, I keep telling myself and I’m trying not to get too freaked out about it all. Just upset I have to deal with this. Ah, well.

Thus, ladies under 26 go get your Gardasil shots to help prevent some cases of cervical cancer, it’s a series of three shots in six months. I was actually aiming to get them done during my next visit, but then got the call about my test.  

Ironically, after I hung up the phone with my doctor, trying to process this all. In my inbox popped up this week’s Blog Off word and it’s HOPE. So, I’m taking that as a good sign, as I hope this time the procedure will be the end of it, that I’ll be ok and that it will all soon be a distant memory a year from now. I hope, I hope, I hope.

Posted by Tara at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2007 10:24 PM PDT
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I heart NY

But I stomach LA...

I found these shirts in a Yahoo! store, and I think the contrast to the I <3 NY shirts sums it up for me.

I have no reason to complain about LA though, the people have been nice, the weather spectacular and I'm having fun, It's just not the City.  In fact, I don't feel like Los Angeles is a city at all. It's not like a Chicago, London, Boston or SF, since there's no central-ness to it and is missing that city feel.  Instead, it's like one big suburb with an occasional tall building and no public underground system. After all, what other city is this close to snow topped mountains and beaches? Yes, that part is very cool, I just don't think of LA as a city, never mind like The Big Apple.

I'm going home to get my fix though at the end of July for a friend's wedding. Yay! I can't wait. Gonna see my friends and family too. 

Posted by Tara at 9:30 AM PDT
Updated: Friday, July 13, 2007 3:02 PM PDT
Sunday, July 8, 2007
The first LA cupcake meetup group

Taking inspiration from Nichelle in New York City, I decided to start a Los Angeles Cupcake Meetup Group. We have 27 members so far and our first event on 7/7/07. I figured we'd start with the most famous cupcakery to the stars--including huge fan Katie Holmes-- Sprinkles, which bakes up 20 mouthwatering varieties including pumpkin and peanut butter and chocolate. 

The shop itself is very cute and efficient, not romantic looking like Magnolia's, but more organized and sterile like the Rickshaw Dumpling Bar in Manhattan. I ended up purchasing their Dark Chocolate cupcake (too much frosting and too rich) and two vanilla cupcakes (nice, but had better). Each cost $3.25 (yick!) and of course came with sprinkles on top, which was both fun and messy. The best part of this shop is that it's in the heart of Beverly Hills and the cute branding and logo, otherwise I look to discover better LA cupcake eats at future meet-ups.

Here are some photos:

LA cupcake meetup

LA cupcake member, Kody, brought some of his own homemade cupcakes from Cake and Art, which were almost too beautiful to eat (see below).  He offered to have our group tour his shop sometime in the future, yay! 

cake and art cupcakes

Posted by Tara at 2:46 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, July 9, 2007 10:09 AM PDT
Thursday, July 5, 2007

I've entered another blog-off for breast cancer competition. Each Thursday, 21 bloggers will be given a new word prompt and from that will build a post. The first week's word is "Survivor," which immediately caused me to think of my mother and not because she likes the TV show, which she does, but because she truly is a survivor and has instilled her strength into me (I hope).

My mother now owns her own business, I can say that proudly knowing it is all to her credit, while remembering how she was once a single working mother worrying about paying the bills and giving me all that she could. She's also one of the happiest, upbeat people you'd ever meet, yet it's hard to believe that given her past or that so much strength lies behind those manicured hands and bright smile. 

She has survived: a severly alcoholic mother; her father deserting them when she was five; being put in an abusive foster home when the state of NY took her away from her mother, younger sister and half brothers at the age of 10 due to being malnourished. 

Instead of being a victim to her surroundings though and staying in the system, she went to business school and like always dusted herself off, still smiling and seemingly unfazed. 

I always felt that if someone has had such a shitty childhood they should at least be rewarded later on, but instead my mom endured more pain, the worse being the loss of her three-year-old daughter, Serina, and experiencing every parent's nightmare. I still don't know how she survived that one, especially when she tells me stories about that week and the funeral, and my dad's resulting demise. Being a baby at the time my mother once again was the strong one and took care of me 100% while grieving and going through a divorce, all without child support too.

mom and I Despite being a single working and grieving mother, I never remember her crying or complaining but always smiling and being silly. She even went from being a secretary to director of HR while also coming home and taking care of me and still discoing it up in the later hours.

Even now, she is going through yet another blow, and surprise, surprise; she's dealing with that winningly too. She is a survivor, she gets through it and even more surprisingly, she never sulks about her hardships, but still acts like a happy school girl always enjoying life despite the bad times and still dolling out love.

I once said to her "Mom, you've had such a hard life." She then said very sternly and emphatically, "I've had a great life Tara, remember that, I've had a great life!" 

So no matter what I go through or have gone through, I've always looked at my mother's strength as a model and inspiration.  

I'm a survivor, I'm not gonna give up, I'm not gon' stop, I'm gonna work harder, I'm a survivor, I'm gonna make it, I will survive, Keep on survivin -- Destiny's Child

Posted by Tara at 2:42 PM PDT

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