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Thanksgiving AND Pets

19 November 2017

Hi guys! Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Wowsers. Where did time go? Three years ago I was horribly sick and mum flew out to London on Thanksgiving Day to bring me home. Where does time go?

Because of the holidays, I know we furry pet parents are concerned what is allowed for our babies o eat... so I did some research and here is what I found:

Fox News: 10 Thanksgiving Foods You Should Never Feed To Your Pets
here are a couple of the ones to surprise me...
Onions: "No matter what form they’re in (dry, raw, cooked, powder, or within other foods), onions are some of the absolute worst foods you could possibly give your pup (it’s poisonous for dogs, and it’s even worse for cats)," Sadie Cornelius, Marketing Director for Canine Journal told Reader’s Digest.
Salty Foods: While us humans can never get enough of potato chips, pretzels and popcorn, these salty treats can lead to “excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning” in our favorite dogs and cats, according to the ASPCA. 
CareThanksgiving Pet Safety: Can Our Pets Eat Our Favorite Thanksgiving Foods? 
here are a couple of the ones to surprise me...
Corn: Loose corn is fine, but avoid corn on the cob.
Mashed PotatoesVerdict: Depends on how it's prepared.If the potatoes are plain and bland, with minimal fat and salt, mashed potatoes can be slipped under the table. But if you go all out like most people and add butter and heavy cream galore, it makes the potatoes less ideal for your pet -- and your waistline. "Fatty foods can cause GI upset and pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening," warns Dr. Collins.

If you are not sure about something, always best to look online or ask the vet! Have a great Thanksgiving and be safe. x

Ralph Fiennes' Voice as JESUS is the Ultimate

17 November 2017

Have you seen THE STAR yet? I cannot wait. Love the soundtrack already thanks to Apple Music. Until I get a chance to see the film in cinema, I decided to watch/listen to the 2000 Russian made stop-motion film Miracle Maker starring Ralph Fiennes as Jesus.
If you haven't already seen the movie, I highly recommend it! Perhaps stop motion is not your cup of tea (nor is it mine) but the voice portrayal of Ralph Fiennes as JESUS is exceptional, one of my all time favorite portrayals.
Miracle Maker. (c) Miracle Maker.
Fiennes' portrays Jesus as a humane man with great emotion -- including passion when he cries over John the Baptist, overturns tables at the Temple; a natural speaking voice riddled with humor when he speaks to the crowds and his disciples; and even a sigh (!) when the Pharisees begin to ask him another question. <Loved it.> I could go on and on. Ralph Fiennes might be better known for Schindler's List and Harry Potter but he was a perfectly casted Jesus (as an adult).

All that to say, I cannot wait to see THE STAR in cinemas (out today!!) and if you have Amazon Prime do yourself a favor and watch/listen to Ralph Fiennes' Miracle Maker.

Some THE STAR Trivia:
- Christopher Plummer (Herod) played Herod's son and heir in Jesus of Nazareth.


PHOTO: Santa HQ (Pets Version)

15 November 2017

Happy Wednesday!
It is another beautiful day here in Southern California and I have a treat for you all. Here is a first look at  tonight's Pets Night at Santa HQ (@ Thousand Oaks Mall), sponsored by HGTV.

Three more Pets Nights (5pm-8pm) are coming soon so don't miss out on the fun and memories.
November 29 || December 6 || December 13
Remember that on pet nights there will also be children and families in attendance eager to see Santa too. So stay considerate of your pets' needs and the needs and hustle bustle around you of the shoppers and fellow Santa fans. Also the best way inside for your pets will be through the parking structure entrance near the food court.

Giving Back:
Shoppers are invited to bring an unwrapped toy for Help Through Holiday Giving. The Oaks will be donating these toys to the Children's Services Auxiliary of Ventura County.

Photo Special:
Early bird photo packages are available starting at $39.99 and as an added bonus guests who pre-purchase a photo package can make a reservation with the Big Man at

And presenting my REVIEW...

p.s. thank you The Oaks and Vet's Here for spoiling my doggy for his first *real* Christmas season in America after all the horrors he faced in Thailand.

Cavalia: Feisty and Fabulous (Opening Day Review)

14 November 2017

Wow. Again, I say WOW. Cavalia Odysseo was better and grander and more incredible than I could have imagined or hoped for! The show is doing so well that additional performances have been adding meaning that Cavalia will be in Camarillo, California, now through January 7th!! 
For me, one of the best parts of seeing Cavalia Odysseo live was to see the horses in all their glory and beauty demonstrating character, charm, feistiness and watching how much work the trainers are required to keep the show running as smoothly as possible and without any injuries.
The show has three principle troupes who perform -- the horses/equestrians, aerialists and African tumblers/dancers. Each group was thrilling and I was really impressed by how everything came together so smoothly. The horses as I mentioned above and in my previous video are phenomenal!! And the riders -- so gorgeous too. The materials the costume team used to dress them were spot on allowing for great fluidity and grace.
Three performers with Samantha Harris and daughters. (c) Odysseo.
And what a treat to see the talented African acrobats -- you may have seen clips online but this was nothing comparatively to seeing them live. I lost count so many times of how many consecutive tumbles these men took and all while making it look so easy! And the gorgeous aerialists were just that -- gorgeous and beyond breathtaking. Their grace, their poise, their talent... Wow, wow, wow. I have never held my breath so much as during their stunts. 
Three beautiful aerialists with Tiffani Thiessen and daughter. (c) Odysseo.
I really would hate to say too much so your own experience might be spoiled but wow. Just wow. From the feisty and playful horses to the gorgeous riders to the graceful aerialists to the incredible acrobats from Africa the show was a pure hit. And don't forget the live music (in French)!
Accessibility Review:
After my earlier preview, they installed hand rails in the bleachers to help with navigating the stairs but do know that there are HUGE and TALL staircases so if you choose seats further in the back [which wouldn't be such a bad idea because of the great view you get] you will be climbing and descending some tall stairs. 

There is REDUCED MOBILITY SEATING (1-866-999-8111) where my friend L and I sat but do know these seats are scarce and few so call ASAP if you are looking for reduced mobility seating. And may I say how very accommodating and lovely the ushers were!! They took my walker for me at the beginning of the show and brought it right back to me at intermission and after the curtain call. Always with a smile.

Reduced mobility parking is available right next to the White Big Top. When you arrive, go to the parking lot entrance near the Box Office and tell the parking attendants you require reduced mobility parking.

And if you need a restroom, there are a couple handicap accessible restrooms with ramps and large enough for wheelchairs!

So what are you still doing reading my blog??? Go get your tickets!!! These will make a wonderful date night, great holiday gifts and there is even a discount going on right now for Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy!!!! xo

For details check out my preview here. And be warned that popcorn and pretzels go fast! :D

Trivia with Hastings: His Name

09 November 2017

Ever wonder where Hastings got his name? Well sit down and find out! xo

Trivia with Hastings #3

Dogs are NOT Accessories!

08 November 2017

This makes me so mad/sad. A precious rescue, Raylito (golden retriever/poodle mix, 7-8 years old), was adopted in September and RETURNED :(
Raylito (C) Life Animal Rescue.
You just don't do that!! Dogs are NOT accessories you can return to the store if you change your mind. They have feelings, hearts and needs. Yes, some dogs like Raylito need some extra loving TLC. [He has kidney disease and needs a special diet and regular fluids.] But that's no excuse for "Returning" a dog like you would a purse you don't fancy anymore. Being a dog parent is tuff work so deal with it.
Hastings Alyosha on his 1st Day with us. (c) The Joyous Living.
When we adopted Hastings Alyosha in February, we were told according to the records from the San Diego Humane Society that his problems were all fixed. WRONG. We must have spent $$$ on vet visits, trying different food options, and more vet visits. Not to mention tears and feelings of incompetence. Our little boy was such a damaged boy skin and bones, crying (still does!) being picked up, having nightmares, not wanting to cuddle/hug, and scampering under chairs for a good hiding/safe place. But my parents were real heroes in my book and paid the vet bills, loved on Hastings Alyosha, and talked with Jeffrey Beri who had rescued Hastings in Thailand and was able to finally offer an eating suggestion that worked (thanks Jeffrey!).

Trust me, it was no fun time having the poor baby screaming whenever he had a bowel movement, seeing him have rectal prolapses on a constant basis, rushing him to the vet hospital at night, etc... But we loved on him and he got better thanks to all involved at the vet, Jeffrey and my amazing parents. He's still not all there but with love, we're making progress one step at a time, maybe a few backward steps but always staying positive and hopeful with love.

All this to say... we had no idea what we were getting into when we adopted Hastings Alyosha who had a clean bill of health but that doesn't mean we returned him and said 'thanks a lot folks'. No, we buckled down and did what had to be done. He was our furry baby and we were his forever home. He had been through hell and back and needed us more than ever.
Raylito. (c) Life Animal Rescue.
So my heart breaks to hear poor Raylito's story. To have had a sweet taste of freedom and a forever home only to have it taken away. Please, please, visit his page on PetFinder and consider offering him a forever home where he'll know love and comfort and safety. Amazingly, Life Animal Rescue is even offering to pay for his food and medical care for the rest of his life!! So please, can someone offer him a home??

Cavalia: My Surprise is Here!!

07 November 2017

I promised you all a surprise and am beyond jazzed to finally share it with y'all today...
Today invited guests (including YOURS TRULY) were able to go behind the scenes and check out the set and stars of Cavalia: Odysseo in Camarillo, California, ahead of the 11/11/17 opening show.

Check out my YouTube video highlighting the best of today's experience...
Dates: 11 November 2017 - 10 December 2017
Parking: $20 (not including the Opening Performance)
Prices: $29.50 - $234 (special prices for kids and seniors)

Are You Accessible?
To better accommodate your needs, please contact a Cavalia rep for help with your ticket purchase.

Accessible Parking:
Reduced mobility parking is also available on site right next to the White Big Top. When you arrive, go to the parking lot entrance near the Box Office and tell the parking attendants you require reduced mobility parking.

For those longing for the ultimate experience, the V.I.P. Packages might be your best option.
You will receive:
  • VIP Pass.
  • Center-row seats.
  • Full meal buffet dining served before the show.
  • Great selection of various refreshments available at will.
  • Dessert buffet, coffee and tea served during the intermission.
  • Exclusive stable visit after the show.
  • An Odysseo souvenir.
  • Intermission Snacks:
    Hot dogs, popcorn, ice cream, pretzels, candies and the like are available, as well as a selection of beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
    Full meal buffet dining is included in our Rendez-Vous VIP Packages.

    Advisory for Ladies:
    Cavalia recommends ladies do not wear high heels.

    Show Duration:
    2 hours 30 minutes (including a 20-30 minute intermission)

    5230 Camino Ruiz
    Camarillo, CA 93012

    Directions (heading North):
    Exit Santa Rosa Road
    Turn Right on Santa Rosa Road
    Turn Right on Verdugo Way
    Turn Right on S. Camino Ruiz

    Directions (heading South):
    Exit Santa Rosa Road
    Turn Left on Santa Rosa Road
    Turn Right on Verdugo Way
    Turn Right on S. Camino Ruiz

    See you soon! You're not going to want to miss this!!

    Santa is Coming!!!!

    04 November 2017

    Santa HQ 2016 (c) the Joyous Living
    Yep, it's that time of year. Santa is heading down from the North Pole to say hi to all the good little children in the Conejo Valley and he's even taking time to see the good dogs and cats too!
    Remember how much fun my friend A and I had last November (a year ago today in fact) with Santa who handed out medical wisdom when I told him I wanted good health for Christmas? Hehe. Well, he is coming back! And so is the awesome high tech HGTV Santa HQ from last year that was a hit with kids and adults alike featuring the Naughty or Nice Meter and the Control Center?
    Santa HQ - Control Center 2016. (c) The Joyous Living
    Santa lands at the Thousand Oaks' Oaks Mall on November 10th for Grandparents' Night (5pm-8pm) and a special "Santa's Arrival" celebration on November 11th from 10am-12pm.

    But not to be forgotten are our favorite furry friends and loved ones! As with last year, Santa will be inviting pets to visit on 4 Wednesdays from 5pm-8pm.
    November 15 || November 29 || December 6 || December 13
    Remember that these nights there will also be children and families in attendance eager to see Santa too. So stay considerate of your pets' needs and the needs and hustle bustle around you of the shoppers and fellow Santa fans. Also the best way inside for your pets will be through the parking structure entrance near the food court.
    A and Yours Truly with Santa 2016. (c) The Joyous Living
    Since last year I had the pleasure of bringing you a review of Santa HQ from an adult's POV, I am excited to share that A and I will be back on 11/15 but this time with our dogs - Hastings Alyosha and Tigo (the little guy had a name change)!! Look for our photos and their review in a couple weeks' time!!

    Joy x

    Santa's Visiting Dates: 
    November 10-December 15

    • Monday-Thursday (10am-8pm) // Friday-Saturday (10am-9pm) // Sunday (11am-7pm)
    • November 22 (10am-6pm)
    • November 23 (Closed)

    December 16-24

    • Monday - Sunday (9am-9pm)
    • Christmas Eve (8am-6pm)

    The Oaks, Center Court near JCPenney
    350 West Hillcrest Drive
    Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
    Special Dates:
    Grandparents Night - 11/10 (5pm-8pm)
    Santa's Arrival - 11/11 (10am-12pm)
    Holiday PJ Night - 11/17, 12/8 (5pm-8pm)

    Giving Back:
    Shoppers are invited to bring an unwrapped toy for Help Through Holiday Giving. The Oaks will be donating these toys to the Children's Services Auxiliary of Ventura County.

    Photo Special:
    Early bird photo packages are available starting at $39.99 and as an added bonus guests who pre-purchase a photo package can make a reservation with the Big Man at

    Trivia with Hastings #2

    03 November 2017

    Who enjoyed Hastings Alyosha's first trivia video the other day? Well today we have an equally adorable video of Hastings showing off his favorite "game"/"pastime". What do your furry friends enjoy doing?

    Enjoy x
    p.s. don't forget to see Trivia with Hastings #1 if you haven't already seen the adorableness :)

    My Sparkle VoxBox - My 1st Video Opening

    01 November 2017

    That's right folks... My first voxbox opening to be filmed on YouTube. Hope you can enjoy with me!
    Reviews and more photos coming soon... xo
    Thanks again Influenster for the complimentary goodies.

    Trivia with Hastings!

    It is a brand new month and in giving thanks for my precious furry cuddle bug, Capt. Hastings Alyosha, I wanted to share with y'all a short series on TRIVIA with HASTINGS! Enjoy xo

    p.s. who saw Hastings' first Halloween video yesterday? I was so impressed with his trick or treat greeting skills. Top rate.

    Bright Star! .... One of the Best Musicals EVER!

    24 October 2017

    Wow. I am still in awe of the amazing production of Bright Star, the 2014 musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, that has opened in Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theatre this past weekend.
    Carmen Cusack in Bright Star. Photo by Craig Schwartz.
    This was unfortunately a short lived musical on Broadway despite winning the 2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and Best Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music. However perhaps it is a show that will be best appreciated on the road where audiences are not having to necessarily choose between it and big flashy blockbuster shows such as Hamilton and Wicked

    Yes, the show only has a 10 member bluegrass band, boasts no extravagant dance numbers and revolves around the "cliche" transforming power of love and redemption. But those three things are actually some of the best elements of the production.
    The Band. Photo by Craig Schwartz.
    The band is housed in set designer's Eugene Lee's brilliant see-through wooden cabin on wheels that also serves as one of the most prominent set pieces. They bring great energy and fill the theatre with their beautiful bluegrass music that had the opening night audience tapping their toes endlessly and at some times you could see a great majority of the audience clapping along. The infectious music by Steve Martin I have no doubt was worthy of his two awards in 2016.

    Photo by Craig Schwartz.
    There are two large dance numbers choreographed by Josh Rhodes that are equal parts entertaining and equal parts memorable. But I would suggest that it is actually the smaller ensemble pieces that serve to provide the most beautiful and breathtaking moments while providing great fluidity to the musical. And what a gorgeous troupe of dancers!

    Allison Briner-Dardenne, Carmen Cusack and Stephen Lee Anderson. Photo by Craig Schwartz.
    Some reviewers might suggest that this is a musical too wrapped up in cliches and predictable conclusions. Yes, to some degree I would agree that Martin's book is riddled with triteness and that the majority of Brickell's lyrics would leave you singing along days later. I argue however that the show's power and beauty comes from leading lady Carmen Cusack's versatile performance as Alice and the show's refreshing homage to classical Broadway where morals were either black and white. 

    Some might suggest the Act One finale is melodramatic and over the top. In shock for the entire intermission, I wondered about it myself and without giving anything away I would argue that it is likely meant to be shocking and thought provoking. Maybe we like to limit our views on evil to extreme terrorists but each of us commit evil in our lives on a different scale and Steve Martin's book is not afraid of getting dirty bringing up atrocities we commit and the effect that those actions have on our lives. The most gorgeous moment of the musical is one you would probably not see coming. Again without going into too much detail I am referring to the Act Two scene between father (Stephen Lee Anderson) and daughter (Carmen Cusack) when even though Daddy Murphy is unable to forgive himself for his past actions Alice is able to quietly reach out and offer her own forgiveness. Pow!

    A.J. Shively, Kaitlyn Davidson and Jeff Blumenkrantz. Photo by Craig Schwartz.
    So... If you are a fan of bluegrass music, love Steve Martin's effortless humor, and want a musical with both heart and conscience then you need to get your tickets fast to see the U.S. Tour of Bright Star!! And please do yourself a favor and do NOT read show spoilers nor listen to the spoiler riddled soundtrack until after you've had a chance to experience the show yourself first.

    Dates: Today through 11/19/17
    ACCESS Performance: 18 November 2017 at 2pm
    Tickets: $30 – $130 (Ticket prices are subject to change.)
    LocationThe Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012

    Accessibility FYI:

    **At the Ahmanson, all levels offer wheelchair accessible seating (call the Disability Line to buy tickets). There are accessible restrooms at all levels. 
    ** Handicapped Parking is available for patrons displaying a handicapped placard at both The Music Center Garage AND valet parking. The charge at both locations is $9.

    **To arrange wheelchair accessible seating and/or mobility services from The Music Center garage to the Ahmanson Theatre call the Disability Line at 213-972-0777
    **Ushers will stow your walkers away during the performance and bring them out to you during intermission and after the show.

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