Tag Archives: Social Media

[Wedding Wisdom] The Name Change Game

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Just imagine – it’s the most wonderful day of the year, or  more accurately one of the best days of your entire adult life: you’re married! You did it! The two of you did it:  you tied the knot, threw the bouquet, did that dance, celebrated with your loved ones – and by now, you should have a shiny new marriage license to prove it.  So, now what? Ah, yes – for some the next steps are simple: go on, keep living and keep loving.  But for most others, there’s a litany of legislative shit to take care of before you actually have a new last name. Most things in life, we want to learn and retain for a lifetime – but when it comes to planning weddings and anything related to it – you gotta figure you’re only doing it once, but when it comes to following the rules – it’s important that you do this one right.

As soon as you bring your signed marriage certificate back to the county of your choosing, make sure that you retain enough copies of your official wedding license so that you don’t mind momentarily parting with one for a few weeks.  Most courthouses will let you get multiples for a discount from the get-go, so score a few for good measure – you never know where else it’ll come in handy, or the multitudes of reasons you’ll need to have it at your disposal.

First thing first, updating the most legal version of your name in the eyes of the government: dealing with the social security administration; this is the one that matters the most, closely followed by your drivers license. The good news: it’s free, and you don’t really have to go into their office (unless you want to). The bad: You’ll be without a copy of your marriage license and a government issue document with your old name on it for verification purposes, like your drivers license, state identification card or passport. Or, you can wait in a 2+ hour line.  The choice is ultimately yours, but I’ll give you a hint: I mailed mine in. Within 2-3 weeks, I had a new SSN card – and within 2 more weeks I had all my documents back in my little paws. Next, either make an appointment or brave the queue of your local DMV with a copy of your wedding license and your old drivers license.  As a warning, you’ll have to forfeit your old ID with your former name so kiss it goodbye so you can say hello to your new moniker.

Before you even have your signed document in hand, you can give your auto and home insurance a call and let them know that your marriage status has changed – most likely you’ll start seeing a discount in your fees immediately (cha-ching!).When it comes to your employer,  know that most companies and their health insurance programs have a 60 day window where you can add your spouse to your current coverage if you’re looking for an upgrade in that regard. Then make sure you reach out to your bank, your utility accounts and your employer and make sure that your new name has been updated in their systems; sometimes they’ll ask for a copy of your marriage license, others all you’ll need to do is send them a scanned version.

Last, but not least – your social media accounts!  At last – on to the fun part!  If you’re on Instagram or Twitter, you can add a “Mrs” in front of your name, if you use your last name – time for a little upgrade, and on Facebook there’s an option for people to search for you by your former name as well.

Or, maybe all that hullabaloo isn’t really for you – you’re digging your old name, it’s been tried and true – and that’s beautiful! Over the last decade, there have been couples here and there that have defied the conventions of marriage and created their own traditions: hyphenated names, the husband taking the wife’s name, and even creating a brand new last name that means something to the couple.

The name change game affects all married couples, simply because choosing to not update your name is still a choice; either way you play it, it’s an adventure you choose for yourself.  So, what are you going to do with your last name?

 

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[LA Life] Get Lit at the Descanso Gardens This Holiday Season

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I’ve been known to gush about the plethora of wonderful parks, gardens and green areas in Los Angeles – so when I found out that the Descanso Gardens was hosting an illuminated evening befit with lights from every direction – I was all ears and eyes.  In tandem with the LA Zoo Lights event, the fabled Descanso Gardens in Altadena is joining in the fun – creating their own Enchanted Forest for the holiday season.  During the day, the sprawling landscape of Descanso consists of a Lilac Garden, a Japanese Garden, California Natives and a sprawling 5 acre rose garden – and at night  for the next four weeks, it’s transformed into a whimsical wonderland with expertly curated and interactive exhibits.

 

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Daytime at Descanso

Technically, hypothetically – it’s helpful if you and your crew acquire your tickets ahead of time but I’ve discovered that anything is possible the day of, especially if you put your mind to it.  If you’re into planning, tickets for the Enchante Forest can be purchased either online or in person at the Descanso Gardens during normal operating hours. Tickets for the Enchanted Forest event run about$30 for weekends through their official website, but I found a discount link through a company called Goldstar for only $21 for as long as tickets last.  Each ticket is timed to a specific entry time, and you’re allowed to enter at any point after and stay until close at 10pm.

Purchase Tickets to Enchanted Forest

As a warning, it gets packed – not to the brim, but you should know that to get in, there’s only one line; it moves fast, but it gets pretty lengthy by the end of the night. There are several bars inside that give generous pours, and some snacks and winteresque drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate.  Perfect for a date night, family night or just a night out on the town with friends getting a dose of something a little different in their lives.

For more on the Enchanted Forest + Descanso Gardens, head to their social media channels:

Facebook | Website | Instagram | Yelp

1418 Descanso Dr

 La Canada Flintridge, CA

 

 

 

[The Audiofiles] ‘Listn’ Up, Music Lovers – There’s A New App For You

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One of the many amazing benefits to growing up in an excessively digital age, is our constant accessibility to music.  Whether it’s by our choice or not, it feels like our brains are being bombarded by beats on the daily: it’s the hold music on your company conference calls, the muzack playing in the elevators between the floors at the doctors office, your iPod at the gym, the SiriusXM radio in your car, the Spotify app you hooked up to your Facebook account or the occasional stop off on Soundcloud.  Believe you me – I’m not complaining by any means; in fact, if possible I would have an ongoing soundtrack to my life and I would always be in charge of the volume.

Listn’s Dashboard

Throughout the years of being expertly plugged into the interwebs, I’ve developed a network of sites that I use to feed my thirst for tunage.  Back in it’s inception, I dove right into Soundrop.fm – which is a great social resource for new music; slowly but surely, all that came from that was a reintegration into Spotify.   I currently dabble in Hypem and Soundcloud when I’m on the prowl for something new, Spotify when I’m curious what my friends are groovin’ to and then the occasional YouTube video for some visual treats.    The only downside to having multiple music platforms is that there hasn’t been a quick or easy way to streamline all of the sites into one. Thankfully, with the growing popularity of websites like Klout that aggregate your social media presence it only makes sense that some group of music loving techies thought to do the same with all of the streaming media around the web.  So, world – meet your new best friend, Listn: a social way to aggregate your audio and find out about the latest and greatest in the music scene.

photoTrust me when I say  – you don’t want to know how many tabs I have open in my browser right now and about a third of them are devoted to the pursuit of music. There are a host of stites that Listn uses to manifest user data, and right now that’s iTunes, Spotify, Hypem, Youtube and Soundcloud. The latest and greatest to addition is Rdio – a website that lets you stream high quality audio for a minimal fee: after 6 months of free listening, $4.99 a month or $9.99 for unlimited listening capabilities. If you’re like me, you’re thinking- WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER – and if you’re not, we might want to rethink the future of our relationship.

The brainchild of Montreal’s MFive Labs, Listn is currently being funded through Kickstarter – where creative endeavors (like Apps, Movies, etc) go for funding.  As of right now, they have raised approximately $500,000 and have released the application for free!   Right now the application is only available for the iPhone (le sighso if you’ve been eating your Apple a day, you’re in luck.  As with most everything in life, good apps come in due time for Android.  The iPhones have an essentially seamless interaction between their applications that Android simply doesn’t have yet,  so hopefully there will be a a version that can work with the upcoming Android KitKat 4.4 OS installation in January (fingers crossed).

Listn’s Userpage

   

 

[Doing it Right] A Night Out with the Bev Cen + Klout

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years in LA – it’s that there’s a very real power behind social media.  It’s an idea shared by many, especially the beautiful minds over at Klout.  I touched on the company a bit last year – almost a year to the day, if you want to get ironic about it! So here’s a refresher if you don’t feel like time traveling through my page:

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Klout aggregates your social relevance  by measuring your reach across multiple platforms, including – but not limited to – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogspot, WordPress; ‘m sure you get the picture.  Then it spits out a score from 1-100 based on how influential it thinks you are.  How does this benefit you, you might ask? Well – Perks; Klout Perks if you want to get specific.  From small things like a $5 McDonalds Giftcard to care packages with Crest Toothpaste, a To Go Container of Scope and a $10 Wal Mart Gift Card, Klout rewards us social media whores connoisseurs in kind for our hard work and cult like devotion.

Last night I was invited to an event at the Beverly Center with fashion aficionados from far and wide.  They were diving into photo booths, digging through goodie bags and frolicking through the mall with some of the hottest in the fashion and blogging industries.   The purpose?  The Beverly Center “Show us Your Style” Challenge.  The entrants –  submitted pictures of their hottest fall fashion for under $125 and the winner was gifted a $1000 shopping spree to the Beverly Center.  And thanks to Klout, selected people with scores of 65 and up were invited to rub bows with the best of ’em.  The event was hosted by three of LA’s hottest fashion and lifestyle bloggers: Shea Marie of Peace, Love, Shea , Chriselle Lim from The Chriselle Factor and last but definitely not least Liz Cherkasova who pens the Late Afternoon.  Now, I blog about lots of things – life, laughter, my love of music, cats and photography – but clothing and accessories, eh – not as much! So it was fun masquerading around under the guise of fashion blogger all night.

They had a live DJ,  yummy specialty made cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes, delicious sangria thanks to Pavan Liqueur and some awesome swag to take home.  Thank you a thousand times over to the lovely staff of the Beverly Center and Klout for throwing such a classy event, a day later and I’m still feeling truly honored to have been a part of it.

Swag bag, what!

More coupons and gift cards; can't wait to go back to the Bev Cen!

More coupons and gift cards; can’t wait to go back to the Bev Cen!

Forever21 Goodie Bag with Gloss and Tweezers

Forever21 Goodie Bag with Gloss and Tweezers

New journal; love the binding!

New journal; love the binding!

[Wednesday Watercooler]

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Well, here we are again – it’s the week’s halftime, the 7th inning stretch or its official 2:30 feeling; however you slice and dice it, it always feels amazing to stroll into the office on a Wednesday knowing the battle is more or less half over.

Summer has officially gone and Autumn has officially swept  over Los Angeles – which, besides a few blustery days and pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, means about jack shit.  After five years in this city, I’ve come to the conclusion that we either have perpetual spring (which causes allergies to act out at the strangest times) or we have the ability to experience all of them in a single day.  One thing’s for sure though: when Summer ends the work load definitely picks up.  If you work in an incredibly corporate climate, Q4 earnings are all the rage; for a company like Disney that’s been around for 90 years as of today, doubly so.  I’ve caught myself working odd hours and well into the night because I’m committed to delivering the best final product – but man, does it take some life out of me!  The last thing I want to do after sitting on a computer for twelve hours is keep sitting on the computer – I need sunshine, fresh air and human contact; I need balance.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of holding on and letting go.
Havelock Ellis

By balance – I mean life outside of html codes, Access databases and vlookups in Excel; life outside of monitors, dragging, dropping and double clicking.  Back before Facebook, AIM and ICQ – we actually had to be social in order to cultivate camaraderie; but now – in 2013 – we silently sit in our self imposed solitary confinement, sending invitations to play “online games” with people halfway across the world when we don’t even know the names of our physical neighbors.  There’s a fine line between where the internet brings us together as social adhesive and where it separates us like the polarity of a magnet.   I bring this up because I continually walk this line within both my personal and professional lives – and I know I’m not the only one.  When you telecommute for work four days a week, you lose the corporate climate and constant interaction; you can’t read the reaction on someones face, you can only infer it through the syntax of their emails.  The same can be said for your personal relationships – how many of us have overlooked calling a friend to congratulate them or catch up simply because we’ve seen their posts on –Insert-Social-Media-Site-Here– and think “Why bother? Looks like they’re enjoying themselves!”  Sure, they probably are – but life is more enjoyable with the people you love by your side so next time you see an awesome update, rad picture or funny quote: reach out and touch them! Text, call or send a picture – hell, even write them a handwritten letter; it’s so easy to press a button and “acknowledge” someones actions online but true real world communication is what cultivates closeness and builds relationships.  So do your due diligence today and tell someone how much you appreciate them – call you parents, your kid sister or even compliment a total stranger.  Bet your bottom dollar you’ll walk away with a bounce in your step! Now, enough banter from the back of my brain – onto the Watercooler!

Oreos Are Equally Addictive As Cocaine or Morphine

I have first hand experience with this one – my boyfriend and I just discovered the Mint Oreos and the package is basically empty. So next time your friends tell you they’re addicted to Oreos, you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt!  According to Joseph Schroeder, a neuroscientist at the Connecticut College, and a group of students – these sweet little morsels of heaven are just as addictive as cocaine or morphine (and a lot cheaper, too!).  The study, conducted to determine the correlation between high-sugar / high-fat food and addiction, proves that foods high in sugar target the pleasure center of the brain the same way that drugs do.  What does this mean for science? Because high sugar foods use the same neurological mechanism as morphine and cocaine, we should be able approach obesity and drug addiction in the same manner.

NASA Wants to Know If You’re Good In Bed

You might think you’re excellent in the bedroom – but can you stay cooped up lying down for 70 days?  If your answer is an emphatic YES – this new NASA study might just be for you!  Known as the ‘Bed Rest Study‘, subjects will spend approximately ten weeks on their back in an exercise program being built for astronauts.  The goal of the study is to minimize the bone loss, muscle loss and cardiovascular function of astronauts through daily weightless aerobic training and exercise.  The program pays $170 a day, or $18,000 for ten weeks in a perpetual horizontal state and five more being studied.  If you’re not attached to standing or sitting, this is definitely the job for you – head on over and apply here!

Drunk Dial Congress

Now, call it juvenile but there’s nothing like having a strong drink and a good yelling match – even if it’s at a pet (or wall, or any other inanimate object of choice); so when I stumbled across this website I thought “Winner, winner – chicken dinner!”.  Congress is currently full of people who can’t get their head of out each others asses long enough to do something positive for the collective good of this nation – so nothing sounds quite as sweet as calling them after a cold one and letting them have it.

Crazy Cat Ladies Rejoice – Wine for Cats Means You’ll Never Drink Alone

Yeah; you read that correctly.  In this beautiful, wonderful, batshit crazy world we live in someone’s taken their sweet time to develop – you guessed it – kitty wine.  Now, I think this is hilarious because Sake – my main cat – is named after the rice wine, so it’s only fitting that I can now give him a bottle of himself!  The wine is called Nyan Nyan Nouveau and is a concoction of catnip, cabernet grape juice and some vitamin c – what’s that mean? That your cat is about to get TURNT. There’s a limited supply in production – only about a thousand bottles – so if this piques your fancy, you best act on it fast!

The end of drinking alone? Wine for cats is a thing

[The Audiofiles] Soundrop – Music To My Ears

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Hello.

My name is Amanda, and I’m addicted to music.

Electronic Music. Acoustic Music. Trance Music. Rock Music.

Live Music.

Good Music. 

All Music.

Thoughts come to me in song lyrics.
I’m too busy dancing to your ringtone to answer your call.
I eat, breathe, laugh and sleep in four to the floor time.
I equally love and hate Shazam when it can’t recognize the eccentric remixes I find.
That ‘new’ song you love? I probably know a remix in each and every EDM genre.

By a rough estimate, I spend at least half the time I’m awake enveloped by the pounding basslines, serenading synths and delicious drops of music: From the moment I wake up, the current alarm tone on my phone sets my pace for the day at 128 BPM, I refresh my Hypem feed as clothes fly around my room like a hurricane and with my iPod in hand – bounce from my apartment to the car, plug it in, turn it up and head out.

The glory of living in the age of social media sharing, technology and kickin’ beats is that there are always new ways to both share and listen to music.

It started off with Pandora and the ability to craft unique radio stations that evolve over time and Last.fm which keeps track of your listening history and makes it easy to share favorite tracks socially.  As the social media craze caught wind, so did the necessity to change the way we’re both listening to and appreciating music.

Spotify, currently one of the best known third party applications for both listening to and discovering new music with friends, has more or less revolutionized this idea.  The company was started in the United Kingdom in 2008 and finally opened up registration to include the United States in the 2011.  Shortly after, they formed a timely partnership with Facebook that requires all users to tie their accounts together – not only encouraging the social aspect of Spotify, but more or less requiring it. There are tons awesome features on Spotify – like the ability to create collaborative playlists with your friends.  However, once you’ve linked accounts you can tell which one of your friends still listens to Nickelback and who has suddenly become a raver kitten – so world be warned, if you’re embarrassed by your musical selection Spotify might not be the music application for you.

I wasn’t a huge fan of people being able to track my latest and greatest melodic moves, and I definitely didn’t feel like scrolling through a laundry list of the bands I stopped listening to years ago every time I logged into my Facebook.  Needless to say, I was on the hunt for something better.  When another music sharing site called Turntable.fm popped up on my radar, I couldn’t help but get excited: it was unlike anything else currently out there.  After you sign up, you can go to thousands of different ‘DJ Rooms’ that have a five turntable set-up for up to 5 users to DJ “back-to-back” .  When the site was created, rooms had a 200 user capacity – but now there’s seemingly no limit to the number of people enjoying the app.  The only downfall of Turntable.fm being that if you want to have your shot at a DJ slot, you might have to wait an incredibly long time – especially in a popular room.  I used the site for a few months, but found myself going back to Hypem and Digitally Imported, where I felt that  either the sets had more strength or I had creative license to play whatever I want.

Well enter the game changer: Soundrop.fm. I litererally only found out about the website this morning, but after playing around with it for most of the day I think I’ve finally found a keeper.  They took a pretty page from the Turntable.fm book – having genre, artist and label based ‘Rooms’ where each member of the room can both add tracks with the search feature and vote their favorites into higher position.  The more votes, the closer to the top of the queue.

There are currently two ways to enjoy Soundrop, they have a nice little web based interface that’s a little glitchy but very easy to use and – in an incredibly genius move – you can also access the application through Spotify.  To me, the difference between Soundrop and Spotify is both social and temporal.  Spotify is wonderful for creating a catalog of songs your friends love that you can listen to at your own discretion, whenever you want most likely by yourself.  Soundrop, on the other hand, tells you what your friends are listening to right now and let’s you all enjoy it together.  Completely fitting that their motto is ‘Music Sounds Better With Friends’ – and I couldn’t agree more!

Tech Tuesday: Facebook Announces ‘Graphic Searches’

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It’s an Announcement, Bitches.
Facebook announcement days are always interesting ones – everyone crowds around their computer, headphones in their ears in a silent unison; seated in the most comfortable position possible to acknowledge what privacy settings are going to be thwarted today.  Only, this morning’s Facebook announcement wasn’t about privacy, timeline conversions or a new API – today’s announcement was much, much bigger than that.

Facebook Graphic Search
First and foremost, I want to give Google credit where it’s due – their search algorithms are beyond out of this world and I really wish I could crack them; they’re starting to roll out personalized searches (which I just signed up for) and Facebook’s new ‘Graphic Search’ feature definitely takes a page from their book.  But, unlike Google – they took the idea and ran a marathon with it: the GUI looks absolutely incredible and I want it now.Graphic Search

What this new search allows for is data dives into user content to search for answers to questions you haven’t even thought of yet, like:

  • How many of my girl friends in Hollywood own miniature dogs and love cupcakes?
  • Do any of my Hippie friends in Echo Park and Venice have a job and a car?

The crazy thing to me is that not only will you be able to search through your friends – you’ll be able to search the general Facebook public as well.

The Bottom Line
This doesn’t just make us more searchable for our friends, this simple feature will make it easier for Brands to perform deep data dives which help determine the value of each and every ad, as well as helping to boost site revenue via impeccable product placement.  With new ways to search our Timelines, I’m guessing this also means more security measures to prevent unwanted data mining.

Patience Doesn’t Have To Be a Virtue
If you’re like me, when you want something – you want it now: if you wanted it in five minutes, you would ask for it in five minutes – correct?  Anyhow, I digress.  But Facebook is rolling out it’s new Graphic Search to anyone who’s willing to be one of their Beta Test Bunnies, so if you’re down for the get down – enroll right here.