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Flying with a Clipped Wing

Shima 0 comments 18.01.2016


Every Monday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s MCM title belongs to Philip Stokes, who has inspired many people through his motivational videos and blogs by emphasizing that with the right attitude, there are no heights you cannot reach.

Philip Stokes, 27, from Torrance was involved in a motorcycle accident in 2006 after a pickup truck ran through a red light into him and changed his life forever. Efforts to try to save his deteriorated arm were ineffective resulting in Philip to voluntarily decide to have his arm amputated due to the severe atrophy, advanced arthritis in his hand, elbow, and a shoulder that would disjoint constantly.


Philip had to even convince the doctors that he believed that this was truly the right thing to do. He had a spinal cord injury when he was 17 years old in 2006, and has been a full-arm amputee since October 2012. The accident resulted in Philip becoming paralyzed in his left arm, shoulder and chest. Not too far after his fall, Philip suffered from severe pain from the paralysis which took a toll on him resulting in frustration, depression, and prescription drug abuse.

He spent many restless hours struggling with nerve tests and experimental surgeries. After realizing that the frustration was getting the best of him, Philip decided that he needed to change his mindset. Although his spinal cord injury changed his life, it didn’t have to control him. In result, he decided to commit his life to the five essential elements of mindfulness that are necessary to overcome life’s obstacles which include: patience, perspective, positivity, perseverance, and passion.


Philip was turned on to the idea of the “3 P’s” by a friend of his, who was also his first soccer trainer when he started after his amputation. His friend read an inspirational book written by one of the most famous soccer managers in modern times who talked about “patience, perspective, and perseverance.” Philip thought, “Wow, how profound, yet simple, right? “

He started thinking about how those three things had been present in all of his transformations as he grew out of his anger and sadness. However, the 3 P’s seemed incomplete to him, as he felt there was more that made those transformations possible. In result, he added “passion” and “positivity” to the 3 to get “5 P’s”


As Philip began to implement these elements into his life, he realized he was moving forward rather than allowing the pain and frustration to get to him. Philip decided to create a website called, How to fly with a Clipped Wing, which he describes as “A motivational glance into the life of a spinal cord injury survivor, amputee, pilot, and soccer player.”

Philip used his website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel to communicate his stories and life lessons with others and how he has incorporated these He hopes that these stories will inspire others to incorporate these elements into their lives. Philip offers his motivational speaking services to all and everyone.


Philip was inspired to title his blog “How to fly with a Clipped Wing” after being asked, “How did you break your wing?” Since he spent many years in an arm sling, it appeared to be broken to others who did not know that it was completely paralyzed. He realized in the first few years after the accident that he was running very low on patience, perspective, positivity, perseverance, and passion in his life which was the real reason why he couldn’t get his life off of the ground. Without these five elements, Philip realized he could’ve fluttered all he wanted but he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon without changing himself for the better.


Philip explains that a bird with its wing clipped has had it clipped by some other means outside of its own control. He explains that “sometimes the effects can be temporary, and sometimes they can be permanent. In either case, it is bound to the ground where it most likely doesn’t prefer to be.” In result, he realized this would be a great motivational approach to the ways that he has overcome his paralysis.

As time has passed, Philip has found the silver-lining to his accident. “I’ve gained such an immense appreciation for the power of patience, perspective, positivity, perseverance, and passion over the years that I felt it necessary to try to reach out to anyone willing to listen to my stories and try to improve their own lives in the same ways that I have improved mine,” he says.


Today, in addition to spending his time inspiring others, Philip is one of the few full-arm amputee general aviation aircraft pilots in the country. He spent a little over two years getting his license to fly single engine airplanes. He was inspired to become a pilot around the age of seven by his uncle who flew fighter jets in desert storms and he thought that flying was the “coolest thing humans could possibly ever do.”

After his amputation surgery, Philip worked hard at a finance analyst job he received after graduating college and essentially afforded the majority of training that way. Although he recently completed his private pilot’s license, he is currently working on an “instrument rating” which he explains is a secondary license that allows him to fly in bad weather, reduced visibility, and low clouds. His goals are to become trained to fly aerobatic planes.


He also loves remaining physically active by playing as a midfielder in soccer whether he’s playing futsal (indoor soccer), in 7v7 leagues, or men’s full field leagues. These two passions of his are what helped inspire the title of his “clipped wing” motivational series. In addition, playing video games one-handed is another one his remarkable accomplishments and hobbies.

Thank you, Philip, for allowing your strength, mindset and most of all, daily choice to not let struggles block you from achieving your goals and inspiring so many to keep flying high, even with a clipped wing.


Philip is willing to speak with all or anyone who’s in need of his motivational services. To contact Philip, please refer to the contact section of his website here.

Like his Facebook Page here.

Visit his Website here.

Visit his YouTube videos here.

“I think that we all have a bit of our own clipped wings at different times. These are the things that weigh heavily on us and inhibit us from getting where we want to go or what we want. The circumstances that we find ourselves in might be our clipped wing at the moment, but by changing the ways that we are patient with ourselves and others, by changing our perspective on the situation at hand, by changing our mindset to more of a positive and affirming mindset, by changing our willingness to persevere no matter how long it takes, and by changing the ways that we incorporate what we are passionate about into our lives, we can all learn to fly with a clipped wing.”- Philip Stokes

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The Purfect Voice for the Incapable

Shima 0 comments 12.01.2016


Every Wednesday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place.

Today’s #WCW title belongs to South Bay resident, Brittany Neal, who started her own dog walking and pet sitting business on top of giving animals left at shelters another chance at life.

Brittany, 24, realized that she always had a deeper passion for animals than most. She grew up surrounded by many different types of animals including fish, turtles, a rabbit, a frog, lizards, snakes, cats, and dogs. “Whatever animal someone didn’t want or we found we kept,” she says.

For some time, she watched her uncle’s animals while he was out of town and also worked for a dog walking company in the South Bay for a summer.  She worked for the dog walking company for about six months until deciding to focus on graduating from CSULB. Upon leaving her job, many of her previous clients asked if Brittany would continue working for them as a dog walker when time permitted and suggested she’d set her own rate with them.

After graduating from CSULB in 2014, Brittany’s previous clients continued referring others in need of animal sitting or dog walking to her. Knowing that she loved it so much, she decided start her own business, Purfect Companion with the referral clients she started to obtain in 2014.


Purfect Companion services include dog walking and exercise, in-home visits, pet taxi and overnight stays. Details of her services can be found on the website here. Currently, Brittany runs the business alone with occasional help from her sister, Keilani. She is searching for the perfect employee to assist her at the moment, but is taking her time in finding the right match.

When asked what makes Purfect Companion differ from other dog walking businesses, Brittany says, “I make sure to meet with the owner and animal prior to welcoming them as clients. I take the time to get to learn and take notes of each animals quirks and I always have constant communication with the owners. This, I feel, makes the owners at ease and creates a closer relationship with my clients so they always feel comfortable coming to me with questions or concerns.”

Brittany hopes to one day be able to patent her own technology for her business, which will help her to be able to expand into the Orange County region, as well as Hollywood/Santa Monica Area. “At the moment, there isn’t the exact software/app program, etc. that correctly fits the needs of my employees, my clients, and myself,” she explains. She hopes enhanced technology will allow her clients to stay connected with her which results in better organization and all-around happier clients.

She is always seeking ways to spread the word or do anything she can to help a dog/cat find his/her forever home. Growing up, her family has always taken in strays and had many types of unwanted animals so she believes this is where she has gotten the drive from. “I don’t know any different,” she says.


Currently, she has five animals living in her home. One cat who she adopted from the Carson Shelter, one cat came from an accidental litter, one cat was found drinking gutter water outside of the restaurant she works at nights, her own dog who was adopted from an unwanted litter of puppies, and finally her foster dog Achilles whom was adopted from the Carson Shelter in October 2015.

She’d come across a video of an injured and completely adorable dog online that no one seemed very interested in. She went to the shelter and saw that Achilles was located in a quarantined area and his front left paw was injured and he wasn’t able to use it.

After a lot of back and forth with the shelter, Achilles was finally (after a month) available to be adopted out on a health waiver. She had to sign papers stating she was aware he needed further medical attention and that she would return with proof of this.

“I felt so bad for this poor guy sitting at the shelter for a whole month unable to even be considered for adoption, that I had to take him in. It was difficult and taking a long time getting a rescue group on board to try to get him out as a foster, and I just wanted him to be safe and not stand a chance of euthanization, so I went ahead and adopted him in hopes of re-homing him in the future,” she explains.


Once adopted, she took him to her veterinarian Dr. Kumar at the Animal Medical Center in Hawthorne and he did the works on him. Achilles had kennel cough, tape worm, flea infestation and after x-rays and tests, they found that his paw had nerve damage to it.

She also took Achilles to a neurologist and they agreed as well. There was nothing to do but wait and see if the nerves would repair themselves over time. Both veterinarians told her that with some cases, dogs can get serious injuries due to not being able to feel their limbs and sometimes even bite off their own limbs.

After three months of being with Achilles, the worst case scenario happened. The dog managed to somehow bite off or rip off one of his toes (the dew-claw that is located higher up on their arm). She took him to the vet and they and I agreed it was best to amputate his arm since this would only get worse.

achilles-post-surgey-2-2-310x413 achilles-post-surgery-2-310x413

Over the span of just 4-5 days, any time Achilles was left alone for only a few minutes, he would manage to rip off the bandaging and make his wound even worse to the point you could see bone. Brittany says, “at this point, amputation was urgent”

 On January 5, 2016, Achilles became a 3-legged dog. She says he is adapting extremely well and it’s almost as if he wanted that leg removed. She finds that he is just fine and is in very high spirits. Brittany is extremely grateful for her mother, Riki Rodriguez, who helps Achilles when Brittany is unable to. She explains that Riki is her dog sitter and helps watch him while he is healing.

With the help of non-profit dog rescue, The Lovejoy Foundation and Erin Lovejoy herself, Brittany believes she will be able to find Achilles’ forever home in hopefully the next month or two. Donations to help Achilles can be made directly on his Go-Fund me page here.

Outside of opening her own business, Brittany has always wanted to help a rescue group or start one of her own and she hopes to spread awareness to the South Bay about adopting animals and not purchasing them. “There is such an epidemic going on with overcrowded animal shelters and animal abuse cases that it is imperative to help spread the word to anyone willing to listen. I hope to be able to connect with the people of South Bay and make a difference for these poor animals who did nothing other than be born,” she says.


She believes this can be done by providing information on low cost or free spay/neuter clinics, low cost behavioral specialists so animals have a chance to correct unwanted or bad behavior, so they ultimately do not have to be given away for these reasons, and information on the importance of continual care for your pet for its entire life.

Brittany would like others to know that animals should be treated like children. “They require time, money (lots of it sometimes), patience, training, and love. So if you aren’t willing to make a 10-16 year commitment to NOT just leave your animal in the yard, or give them away when you move, then don’t get one in the first place,” she says.

Although busy, Brittany still manages to have her own pets with the exception of help too. “I have help, just like my clients have me to help them. Sometimes I have to plan ahead of time with my schedule and ask a friend or family member to swing by to check on my animals or feed them. I have lots of spare keys just for the animal’s needs,” she explains.


Brittany’s animals sleep with her inside, and if possible, she takes her dog on vacation with her as well. In addition, she makes sure they all have a routine of when they eat and she knows when they need to go potty. She believes that having taken the time to know each of her animals as well as each of their personalities, has made life easier.

When she isn’t being a wonderful mom to her own pets, rescuing dogs, or walking and sitting dogs, she enjoys grabbing food/coffee with friends and just catching up with their lives. She also loves music and enjoys going to concerts whenever possible. Brittany currently resides in Lawndale and grew up in the South Bay.

To learn more about Achilles and how you can help, please refer to the following link:

Achilles gofundme link for donations: www.gofundme.com/achillesleg

Purfect Companion Business Inquires:


Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/purfectcompanion

Thank you, Brittany Neal for being a wonderful member of the South Bay community and providing not only exceptional services but by offering a voice for our fur friends who are unable to speak.


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Once a Marine, always a Marine

Shima 0 comments 11.01.2016


Every Monday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s MCM title belongs to Zach Lee.

Zach, 25, was born and raised in North Torrance, CA. At the age of 20, Zach joined the Marine Corps in December 2009 and began boot camp only a few months later in March 2010. “I joined the military to be a part of something greater, and to serve my country, and do my part in the wars,” Zach explains.

Zach’s title in the military is corporal, which according to Military-Ranks.org is “the fourth enlisted rank in the U.S. Marine Corps, ranking above Lance Corporal and directly below Sergeant.” Zach explains that it is considered the first tank of Noncommissioned officer. At the end of his enlistment in January of 2014, Zach concluded as a combat veteran. Zach’s uncle Kenny Simpson also served in the military prior as a fighter pilot in the Air Force.


Zach’s duty in the U.S. Marine Corps was a 0331 Infantry Machine gunner. “Attached to 1/1 C.co WPNS Platoon, our job was to attach to the rifle squads and provide support with heavy guns,” he explains. Since returning  home, Zach continues to visit his unit aboard Camp Pendleton, and has personally visited platoon mates.

His accomplishments and efforts have resulted in awards and commendations; good conduct , meritorious unit citation, and a navy achievement medal. Along with other medals while overseas. Zach has deployed to numerous countries including Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Pakistan, Oman, Hong Kong, Africa, Thailand, Jordan, and Hawaii.


He finds that the most rewarding part of serving was the honor of giving back to the country. However, he says that the most difficult part of service, was “The mental hardships of war and being away from family for so long, such as seven month deployments.”

When asked what he’d like people to know about service men and women, Zach says, “I would like people to know that many service men and women have a hard time transitioning to “civilian life”, when they get out of the military. With that comes stress, if you happen to know or meet a veteran sometimes they could use helpful advice or a leg up in their new adventure to becoming a civilian.”


Today, Zach is working at Valero refinery, which helps families in need during the holidays, by providing essentials and presents for the families. “When I had first hired on with Valero it was December, our training class had been assigned a family, they had a list of items that each family member needed, and a few items that they wanted for the kids like small toys. Our class had put together the gifts and items, and myself and a few other guys from the training class went to the family’s house and delivered the gifts and took pictures with the family,” Zach says.


As a single parent, Zach spends most of his time with his son and daughter, Jake and Sophia. He enjoys taking them outdoors, reading books with them and going to the dog park. He is currently living in North Torrance and in five years hopes to have been promoted with his job to the highest level he can go.

He also hopes to purchase a home in the future for his family and enjoys donating to United Way which is a nonprofit organization that contributes money and charity work to cities that are in need. For instance, united way and Valero Wilmington have raised 2 million in proceeds to Wilmington and its schools and parks and programs to help people find jobs, homeless shelters.


Thank you, Zach, for serving your country and dedicating your early years to making our country a safe place and continuing to live up to your role by finding ways to pay it forward to your community today.

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Fur-ever Saving Grace

Shima 0 comments 06.01.2016


Every Wednesday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place.

Today’s #WCW title belongs to South Bay resident, Daphne Ku’uleimealohaokalani Marie Garrett who is a veterinary technician at Country Hills Animal Clinic in Torrance.


Daphne, 28, has lived in Torrance her entire life and was inspired to pursue the animal care field after adopting her very first dog at the Carson Shelter.

Five years  after high school, Daphne received her certificate as a veterinary technician in June 2010. She describes her position as the Doctor’s, “right hand man.”


Daphne begins and ends each day by seeing in room appointments and checking on surgeries. Some of her duties include surgeries mostly of spay and neuters, dental cleanings, vaccinations, radiographs, lab work, placing IV catheters, dental radiographs and blood draws.

Due to the unpredictability of her work field, Daphne feels some days are harder than others and there is no “typical” day at work. “We see so many different types of dogs and cats with similar and different issues. We do our best to exceed beyond everyone’s expectations for themselves and of course for the pet’s best interest,” she says.


When asked what is the most difficult part of her job, Daphne explains when “we have to send our furry friends to doggy heaven because we have done all we possibly could to help them.” This can be in result of many things such as diabetes, cancer, or old age.

“The only thing that gets me by is knowing the second they leave us, they are no longer in pain and are happy and free running around in heaven,” she explains. She says that even when the dog is not hers, it is the worst heartbreak she’s experienced.

Despite the difficulty of some aspects of her position, she believes the best days are when she can send the owners and their pets home happier and healthier than when they walked into the hospital.

Daphne wishes that pet owners understood that having pets is a lot of work. “They need to know it is just like having a kid, but sometimes even worse because dogs don’t have the ability to speak,” she says.


She also wishes pet owners realized that dogs have to be cared for, fed, walked daily and both dogs and cats need to be vaccinated yearly dependent on age. In addition, she urges that they pay attention to symptoms of being sick and take precaution immediately if necessary.

Daphne has found that animals have feelings, know when you are upset or happy. In result, she believes that owners should understand that pets become members of the family. She believes that residents should choose a Veterinarian based on referrals from family and friends. She does not believe in relying on internet sites such as yelp. She explains that people can be cruel and lie.


Daphne hopes to one day start her own business. She’d like to open a rescue or a doggy day care/grooming and dog bakery. However, she believes many can help animals by adopting those at high kill shelters or volunteering their time there.

When Daphne is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking with her own dogs, visiting the dog beach or traveling. Daphne is the furr-mom to Lucky, a mutt who was adopted at Carson Shelter and Winston who she got as a gift two years ago.


Lucky inspired Daphne to pursue the veterinary field after showering her in unconditional love. He is now going on 12 years old and she likes to call him her “grumpy old man.”

Daphne’s motto in life is, “Adopt, don’t shop and give pets the love they deserve. Give them a FURever home.” She has found that dogs give her a sense of saving grace that no one is able to give her.


Thank you, Daphne, for being a wonderful asset to our veterinary field in the South Bay and reminding us that it is possible to have a career doing what we love- like saving animal’s lives.

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Changing the world one punch at a time

Shima 0 comments 04.01.2016


Every Monday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s MCM title belongs to Vance Bejarano who has helped so many individuals reach their fitness goals as well as achieving personal growth and confidence.

Vance, 32, grew up in San Clemente and only 17 years old, Vance realized he wanted to pursue boxing so he joined a gym in his hometown. However, he realized soon after that he was far better at kickboxing and martial arts. He explains, “I was better with my kicks.”

He began training at the gym, meeting with several coaches at a time. “I had a boxing coach and a kickboxing coach,” he says.  Not too long after, he began competing in tournaments against other opponents. Till this day, Vance remains good friends with his coaches.


Prior to competing, Vance became a coach himself.  He moved to the South Bay seven years ago and began training at UFC Gym located in Torrance at 1431 W Knox St, Ste 1200.

While in high school, Vance knew he wanted to one day become a coach, so he began taking necessary steps such as studying kinesiology and human biology his junior and senior year. Upon graduation, he completed his schooling and became a certified coach.

Vance believes that besides learning the sport of boxing, a “good boxer” is one who has a strong mind and determination. “A lot of it is mental, a lot more than physical. The strongest guy can do so much in the weight room, but when it comes to boxing it can show he can be broken as well,” he explains.

He says that ultimately as a boxer you must be strong-minded. His favorite part about boxing is competing and witnessing himself become stronger and better. He explains that each fight is something new and that’s what he likes most about the sport.

 Vance finds so much joy in his career and truly feels blessed to be able to do something he loves every day. However, he takes his role in his client’s lives very responsibly and understands that as a Coach, he is to maintain a positive image inside and outside of the gym. “I think that what you do outside of the gym reflects in the gym,” he explains. To Vance, coaching is more than just a job. It is a responsibility.


“I like grabbing the average kid and watching him learn something or grabbing the average woman, or the weakest in the room and next thing you know she’s the strongest woman. Helping the weak get stronger, the kid that gets bullied. You know, teaching them how to survive out there? There’s so much that comes inside the gym besides showing people how to kick and punch,” he says.

Vance has maintained strong relationships with many of his clients. He has watched many of the younger kids grow up into strong-willed individuals, some who’ve even faced bullying. In addition to boxing and kickboxing, Vance coaches in MMA, self-defense, wrestling and even proper lifting.

Vance explains that the one difficult part of is job would have to be getting out of bed sometimes to be in the gym by 6 a.m. However, as soon as he’s in the gym, he is pumped and ready to go!  He maintains a strict diet of lean meats, vegetables and brown rice, but enjoys his fun days too. “I just try to eat the right things at the right time,” he says.

When Vance isn’t instructing classes or coaching, he enjoys bowling, spending time with his dog, and going for nice walks.


Vance would like anyone who’s interested in boxing but is afraid to try it to know that it is a fun sport and you shouldn’t be afraid of it. “It’s a lot more than just learning how to take a punch. It’s more of an art. Whoever doesn’t know it should be able to learn it. it helps build confidence and is a great exercise,” he explains.

To learn more about UFC Gym located on Knox street, please visit their website here or contact store Manager, Michael, at torranceknoxstreetgm@ufcgym.com

 to schedule a free class at their website here.

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Tis’ the Season

Shima 0 comments 12.12.2015


For today’s “Tourist in my own city,” I visited one of South Bay resident’s favorite activities to do during the holidays- walk through Candy Cane lane!

If you grew up in the South Bay like I did, you know all about Candy Cane lane and look forward to visiting it annually. It is located in the 5000 block of Sharynne Lane in Torrance, CA.


During the holidays, several streets in South Torrance are decorated elaborately and free to the public for viewing unique lights. Homes in the area between PCH and Calle Mayor are lit up for locals to drive through or park their car and walk.

Personally, I love walking even if it’s a little chilly outside. I love to layer on sweaters and walk through the neighborhoods with family and friends. Residents of the area are often home with company. Many sell items such as hot coca and popcorn in front of their homes.


I love walking the neighborhood to see all the joy the children feel and the awe in their expressions as they see their favorite characters from movies used as décor such as, Frozen.

Many kids will pop their head out of their parent’s car and joyfully shout “Merry Christmas” as they go through the neighborhoods and it is adorable to hear the pure excitement in their voices.


It is nice to see how unique the decorations are from surfing Santa’s to gingerbread men with Hawaiian tshirts. I love how residents use the lights to express their passions such as musical notes, animals drinking from a pond to a house with a large picture of the world expressing world peace.


My favorite house to see each year is quite simply, but the meaning is huge to me. They wrap a large yellow bow over a tree with red, white and blue lights below it with an American flag flying nearby. The yellow bow is a symbol in honor of supporting our troops and it always hits home for me.

No matter how young or old you are, visiting Candy Cane lane is a must during the holidays.


For those unfamiliar with finding Candy Cane Lane, I suggest parking your car at Seaside Elementary located at 4651 Sharynne Ln, Torrance, CA 90505 and walk towards the residential area. Also, avoid entering from PCH. Instead, turn on Calle Mayor or  try turning on a side street like Carlow or Susana.


Dress warm and enjoy the lights and fun decorations!


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Shima 0 comments 10.12.2015


For today’s, “Tourist in my own city,” I visited Los Angeles’ famous cupcake shop,

Sprinkles Cupcakes.

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a huge sweet tooth and love of chocolate. I’ve personally never been crazy about cupcakes, until I tried Sprinkles!

Upon walking into Sprinkles, you’ll notice that the front door is closed tightly. I asked an employee why this was and she explained that the door remains closed so that the room can maintain its temperature so that the cupcakes stay fresh and moist.


The room isn’t very large, but there is a strategic method in ordering your cupcakes. About four-to-five parties, dependent on size can fit in the room. While the party in front of you is selecting their cupcakes, one can inspect all the varieties and decide on what they will be choosing.

There are so many options to choose from including  banana, carrot, black and white, chocolate marshmallow, coconut, dark chocolate, chai latte, lemon, cuban coffee, etc. Keep in mind, however, that cupcakes vary location to location and flavors are listed on the website per location,

A single cupcake cost $3.75 while a dozen is $42.00.


Founder and pastry chef, Candace Nelson, opened the world’s first cupcake bakery, Sprinkles Cupcakes in 2005. The first location was the one I visited today in Beverly Hills.

Next door, there is a Sprinkles Ice-cream shop where delicious creations are made. A cupcake not sweet enough for you? You can purchase a scoop of Sprinkles’ tasty ice-cream on top of a cupcake.

Ice-cream flavors include banana, butter pecan, mint chip, red velvet, and more.


According to the Sprinkles website, the cupcakes are handcrafted from “the finest ingredients, including sweet cream butter, bittersweet Belgian chocolate, pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, fresh bananas and carrots, real strawberries and natural citrus zests.”

The cupcakes are topped with their trademark of modern dots, chocolate sprinkles from France, or designed with seasonal sugar decorations. During the holidays, you’re sure to find unique flavors such as gingerbread for the month of December.


The cupcake shop is also well-known for their adorable dog cupcakes. The small cupcakes are designed specifically for your favorite four-legged friend and were a hit with my dogs.

Since the opening of Sprinkles, many businesses have tried to compete with the bakery. According to The Washington Post, “”most cupcake bakeries take their inspiration from Sprinkles.”

Today, Sprinkles Cupcakes can be purchased in several states including Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, and New York. Furthermore, there are numerous locations in California including The Grove, La Jolla, Newport Beach, and Westlake Village.


 I think one of the neatest parts of Sprinkles Cupcakes is that they have a Cupcake ATM! Yes, you read that correctly. In select locations, one can purchase a cupcake or cookie from Sprinkle’s ATM machine which is in front of the store. The ATM is perfect for late-night cravings. Several locations that have the ATM include the Beverly Hills location and Las Vegas.


Today, Sprinkles Cupcakes include cupcakes, ice-cream, dog cupcakes, and cookies. For those unable to visit a shop, you can order items directly from their website-including ice-cream!

Special features include cupcakes and cookies for pickup, cupcakes and cookies for delivery, ice cream & cookie dough shipping, and retail shipping.


I highly recommend Sprinkles Cupcakes for special events from office parties, weddings, to birthday parties. The cupcakes are delicious and tasteful.

For more information on finding Sprinkles Cupcakes locations or an ATM near you, please visit their website here.

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Shima 0 comments 04.12.2015


For today’s “Tourist in my own city,” I visisted Rolling Hills Estates’ new restaurant, Corazon.

This may sound silly, but I typically judge a Mexican restaurant in the first few minutes based on their SALSA! I personally have no tolerance for spicy, but I do love a good salsa that is mild enough for me to eat and spicy enough for me to feel a kick.

Corazon did not disappoint.


Corazon Mexican Kitchen, located at 767 Deep Valley Dr., Rolling Hills Estates has a trendy, yet welcoming atmosphere.  The restaurant opened earlier this year in June, but I finally had some time to get in there and I wanted to share my experience.

I found that there are several areas designated for parties where groups can separate themselves from others to enjoy their privacy. In addition, the restaurant has an outdoor patio and a bar where individuals can enjoy their lunch or a drink.


What makes Corazon differ from other Mexican restaurants is that the ambiance and presentation of the food brings elegance to what many may consider a casual dinner. The restaurant is well-known for their cucumber margarita which Cucumber has cilantro, jalapeño, agave nectar with sweet and sour and Han Teq. Tajin Rim. Furthermore, there is a large selection of beer and Latin American Wines.


Based on my experience, I would rate the restaurant an A+ for their efficient service, friendliness and quality. The meals were brought on a timely manner and our waiter, Jacob,  checked on our large party of 12 often. It also didn’t hurt that our chips, salsa and water were refilled often without mentioning.

For a restaurant as elegant as Corazon, I was very surprised to find that prices were very affordable. Customers can mix and match from a variety of options that is perfect for someone who isn’t very hungry. Some options include a soup and salad, a taco and Mexican salad, or a tamale and salad.


Many of the meals are homemade recipes and as mentioned previously, the salsa is AMAZING! Only suggestion I have, don’t get too full off the fresh tortilla chips and salsa like I did.

To learn more about Corazon and to make reservations, please visit their website here.

For some of their specials, please refer to the photo below.


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Surviving the Holidays in the South Bay

Shima 0 comments 29.11.2015


Christmas is one of the most loved holidays. It’s a time where (most) people are in a jolly spirit and make the most memories with their loved ones.

Although many parents love the fact that their children have a two-week break, most fall short of activities to do, leaving their children constantly nagging, “I’m bored.”

Despite the excitement of having time off, we tend to forget all the great activities we can do. Here are some fun ways to celebrate the holidays and the time off- South Bay style.

  Go see Christmas Lights:

It’s not Christmas until you pack the car with your family and friends and visit Candy Cane Lane at 200 Acacia St in El Segundo, CA 90245. Kids can meet Santa and view extravagant light displays, all for free.


Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights in South Torrance is another great site to visit. The entire neighborhood is involved. I personally love to park my car so that I can walk along the sidewalk. It’s easier to capture photos and neighbors sell delicious treats along the way.


Buy a Christmas tree:


One of the most admired traditions of the holidays for families is buying a Christmas tree. It’s one of the best ways to get the family together, working towards the same goal- finding the best one.  This Christmas, stop by Christmas Tree House and mention “SELL WITH SHIMA” to receive 10% off.

Ice-Skate with Friends:

Ice-skating makes for unforgettable memories. With all the falling, laughing and hot cocoa, you’re sure to have a wonderful time. One of the best parts of ice-skating is trying to keep your balance while taking silly photos with friends.


Head down to Santa Monica’s ICE or LA Live’s outdoor rink this month for some outdoor fun.

Have a Secret Santa Party:

Giving gifts can be a hassle, especially when you’re blessed with a large group of family or friends. Grab a group of friends or cousins and place names into a bowl. Everyone picks a name and keeps it a secret until the gift-exchange date, which you can choose. This is a fun and inexpensive way to celebrate the holidays, all while keeping everyone involved in the fun! A tip: have everyone agree on a budget for gifts.



nvite your friends over and have each person bring over their favorite homemade treat. I love sitting around the TV and enjoying warm cookies with a cup of milk with friends.

Visit Big Bear:


Sure, we don’t have snow in Los Angeles. But hop in the car and drive 2 hours to Big Bear and you’ll have fresh snow where you can sled, ski, or snowboard for the day!

Sand Sledding:


Is Big Bear too far? No worries, winter in Los Angeles consists of sleds on sand in Hermosa Beach. Who’s complaining? Sun and Sleds.

Give back:


It’s not the holidays, unless you’re giving back to those who need it most. Try donating items no longer needed to the Salvation Army or donating jackets, umbrellas, and blankets to homeless. My friends and I enjoy making sandwiches and giving it back to homeless in Skid-row. It helps you remember how fortunate we are.

Take silly Christmas photos:


Enough said.

What are some of your favorite local attractions to visit during the holidays?

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Christmas Tree House

Shima 0 comments 27.11.2015


Growing up, I remember the excitement and joy I felt when my mom would pull into the Christmas Tree House lot. I’d have a 100 acre smile plastered on my face, eager to see all the beautiful trees.

Christmas Tree House, located at 17520 Prairie Ave Torrance, CA 90504 is special to me because I grew up purchasing my Christmas trees there. I remember jumping out of my mom’s car uncontrollably as I ran through aisles of trees, determined to find THE ONE.

Granted I was so young, but I was convinced that I was the tree-guru and knew everything. The men working always gave me more credit than I deserved and agreed that I was right about “the perfect tree.”

Truthfully, as I’ve grown older, I value all the trees-in different ways. I love the Charlie Brown trees as much as I love the full, bushy ones. Over the years, as I have grown older, I’ve learned more about the variety of trees.


This is because of the knowledge, service and joy the employees have. I wouldn’t have known the difference between a Silver-Tip tree to a Noble one, but they were able to inform me of what makes one unique from the other. I also learned that a 6 ft. tree will take a minimum of 6 years to grow- wow!

Today, the lot has many more features than I remember from my childhood. They have an on-site jumper that is free for all the children to use, popcorn, wreaths, lights, mistletoe, and a small gift shop. In addition, snowmen and reindeer created with real wood are for sale.


The crew of men who cut and place trees on the cars for customers are sharp, polite, and efficient. But best of all, they have the Christmas spirit! It’s clear to see that they’re happy helping and make the entire experience worthwhile.

I’ve had to shop at other lots in the past, such as Home Depot, and it personally didn’t feel the same. I noticed that the employees were more focused on getting me inside their store to purchase new lights than help me pick the best tree.


At Christmas Tree House, they carry Douglas fir, Grand fir, Noble fir, Nordman, Turkish Fir and Silver Tip trees which are well taken care of as every tree on the lot is placed on a stand and in water. If you’re not aware of the difference, I highly suggest asking a member of the crew who will gladly educate you.


The lot opens at 7 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving and remains open until each last one is sold.

My favorite part of having a tree in my house growing up was always the smell. I still remember from a young age coming home to my house smelling like a walk through the forest. I’d read books under the tree, eat popcorn from the huge tins, and then place ornaments on while watching Home Alone 2.


The trees at Christmas Tree House are very affordable and greener than ever and stay smelling fresh until the very last day. I appreciate knowing this ahead of time and that’s why I continue to buy my trees there every year.

I am so grateful for all my family and friends who’ve supported my business this past year and in result, I’ve teamed up with my favorite tree lot to give 10% off to customers who mention


I hope that the season brings you as much joy as it does for me.

Happy Holidays to all!

To learn more about Andy and the Christmas Tree House, please refer to the website here.


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