Thursday, April 29, 2010

Steal of the Week: Ann Taylor Loft Signature Tees 30% Off!

Even though the wind around Southern CA has been making it feel like I live in Chicago lately, the weather is starting to warm up (a little), and most importantly, the sun is out. And that sun has been making me crave spring clothes, so I spent my lunch hour at my local Ann Taylor Loft store in Pasadena looking for some inspiration. The sale sign by the front door gave me some added incentive, since my budget is still trying to recover from my investment in hockey play-off tickets.

I SCORED and found these three lovely selections. They're very representative my style - a little classic, mixed with a little glam and some definite rock and roll edge!

And the best part was the price - only $73 for all 3. All on sale, might I add! The one in the middle alone was originally $40, and I got it for $15 after two mark-downs. At the original price for each, I would have paid $125!! OK, I wouldn't have paid that much. I would have picked only one shirt because I refused to spend that much money on t-shirts.

Any guesses which I'd pick if I only had to choose one?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Life After Hockey Season

So now the Kings season is over, and my weeks and weekends are no longer carefully scheduled around home games at Staples Center, pre- and post-game rituals and TV schedules for away games.

In truth, a TRUE hockey fan never really takes time off from the game, because the "off-season" has plenty to offer, especially this year.
  • The amateur draft is being held here in Los Angeles at the end of June.
  • The NHL Awards (where we find out if Drew wins his first Norris Trophy) are June 23rd in Las Vegas.
  • Free agency begins July 1st, and the "Fro, or No Fro" question will finally get answered for the Kings.
  • Prospect Development Camp is normally in July, and presents a great opportunity to see some future Kings while they're still growing up.
Still, having a little break from obsessing over hockey is a healthy thing. And given that I "lost" most of last summer moving into a new place, I've got a long list of overdue projects and other things I hope to tackle this summer. So here's a list of some of the non-hockey related things I hope to accomplish during the "off-season."
  • Loose the last 20 pounds and meet my "In Training" goal.
  • Work through a pile of magazines and books I haven't had time to read.
  • Finish 7 in-progress scrapbook projects.
  • Finally start scrapbooks for my trips to Ireland (2006) and my Mediterranean Cruise (2008).
  • Turn this entire mess into greeting cards.
  • Try out a pile of recipes I've collected over the past 10 years and never had time to cook.
  • Get back to playing tennis with Nadine.
  • See my nephew play Little League baseball for the first time since he was T-ball age.
  • Work on having a better tan than I got last summer.
And somewhere in between all of that....RELAX.

Yeah, that last one....not gonna happen.....I've got too much to do!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kings Stanley Cup Play-off Season: Round 1, Game 4 - "Splitsville"

On this day in 2006, Dean Lombardi was named the eighth General Manager in Kings history. Dean was the brains behind the decision to draft a certain Drew Doughty in 2008, and put the wheels in motion for an 18 year old kid (incidentally born December 8th) wearing the number 8 to start the Kings down a road to redemption, including their first play-off win in 8 years. Got chills yet?

(If the Number 8 coincidences don't get you
excited, 20,000 rally towels should...)

Well, don't get too excited, because tonight proved that magic and coincidences around numbers is great, but putting together a play-off run takes hard work, and even some luck. The Kings put in plenty of work tonight, but didn't seem to have the right luck, losing a heart-breaker to Vancouver 6-4.

The "Luongo" chants started early on, and the Kings owned the first with Drew scoring his second play-off goal in high style and taking it to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.

(They call me Dewey. I score goals...BIG TIME goals...)

But the Canucks battled back during an up and down second period. Their first goal was 3:36 in, which Captain Dustin Brown answered at 5:56 with his first play-off goal.

(That's why he's the Captain!)

Ex-King Pavol Demitra made it 2-2, then Anze Kopitar scored his second play-off goal to make it 3-2 Kings by the end of the 2nd.

The Canucks really picked it up in the 3rd, and there were more goals scored by each side in a back and forth battle until it was knotted at 4-4. Then we got gypped on a missed tripping call, which led to the Canucks go-ahead goal and made it 5-4 with 2: 52 left. All of the Canucks fans that have been complaining on the Internet this week about all the calls that didn't go THEIR way in this series should finally be happy. Quickie got pulled for the extra attacker, we lost control of the puck, and Drew dove after it with all he had but couldn't stop it -- so the Canucks ended our night with an empty netter for a final score of 6-4.

So we split the series in Vancouver, and Vancouver split right back here in our house, and the series is currently tied 2-2. We knew this was going to be a battle before it started, and so far the series has been exactly what everyone expected. My "I Believe" sign even got a little banged up tonight, but my faith remains unshaken.

And on the plus side, this gives the Kings a chance to win the series at home Sunday if they can take the next two games. It's gonna be a nail-biter for sure, so stay tuned!

Before I turn in for the night, I have to give a special shout out to my Facebook friend and fellow Kings fan Adee Feiner, who I got to meet tonight for the first time. We even got her some Jumbotron exposure! Face time, Adee!

(That's Adee on the far left. Rachel is hogging the
face time in the middle...just kidding Rach!)

And thanks as always to my girls Rachel, Bri, and Jen for bringing the fun and creativity to warm-up watching.

Next, the Kings travel back to Vancouver for Game 5 on Friday. GO KINGS GO!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kings Stanley Cup Play-off Season: Round 1, Game 3 - "Our Great 8"

After a long season of anticipation that started with the Kings being booed off the ice after losing the home opener, it was an incredible feeling walking to Staples for the Kings first Stanley Cup Play-off home appearance in 8 YEARS!

I miraculously survived the work day, in spite of a knot in my stomach caused by a strange mixture of excitement, nervousness, joy and maybe even a little fear. Eight years is a long time. This team is still so young. We're playing Vancouver, a team including a gold medal winning goalie and a pair of red-haired alien twins, one of which earned bragging rights this year as the NHL's leading scorer.

It just doesn't get bigger than this.

And on top of all the hockey implications, I realized something else. I'd never been to a professional sports play-off ANYTHING in my entire life. My nephews have been to World Series games, for crying out loud. How do you act at a play-off game? Can you still yell at mean people in your section? Will they get mad if I hold up my sign? Will the Drew-cam get the respect it deserves? Did I bring the right ticket (none of them have dates....arrrgh!)? So much to fret over...

I shouldn't have been worried, because start to finish it was an absolute blast!

I found Jen and Bri on the walk over, and since we were early we checked out some of the fun happening in Chick Hearn Plaza, including some street hockey! Jen and Bri played, and I did what I do best...took pictures!

We even caught King Hall-of-Famers and VP of Hockey Operations, Luc Robitaille, having a ball doing an interview with a local rock station. He's quite the Metallica Fan -- apparently The Black Album is his favorite pre-game music.

When we got inside, the first thing I did was find Nadine. We had a special package to open pre-game that came all the way from Canada! I can't reveal what was in the package, but let's just say we both have some extra special hockey luck with us at all times now.

Then I headed back to find Jen and Bri at our customary warm-up watching spot. And they got out the signs they made to inspire the boys. This one was my favorite.

They also gave everyone rally towels and these neon necklace things, which we promptly turned into head bands. Jen had a little fight with hers first....

Drew had on his game face, and whether or not he's "officially" growing a play-off beard, his face hasn't met a razor in a few days. LOVE IT!

Then I headed back to my seat, scarfed down a pizza faster than I've ever eaten anything in my life, and watched in awe as the lights went down and the noise level went through the roof! What an electric moment!

The game was more exciting than anything I imagined. It was so hard fought, that at points it looked like an all-out war was about to break out. And then it happened....Drew scored HIS FIRST EVER PLAY-OFF GOAL!!!!!!!! I've never screamed so loud in my life! Unfortunately, he also left the game with 47 seconds left in the first period after a knee contact with another player, and my heart dropped! Then I madly started texting anyone I knew who wasn't at the game to see what they were saying on TV. I just couldn't believe he would make it through the whole season, score his first play-off goal and then get hurt!

Luckily he came back out in the second and looked OK. He must have been, because he went on to get 3 assists and help lead the Kings to a 5-3 victory over the Canucks! And Drew was the #2 Star of the Game! WE WON! IT FINALLY HAPPENED! AFTER 8 YEARS, A GUY WEARING THE NUMBER 8 BROUGHT IT HOME.

Talk about goosebumps! The karma around the number 8 and the Kings is going to be legendary. And I mean FOREVER! Destiny HAS to have a hand in this....I can just feel it.

If you're not a Kings fan yet, you will be. Because we're not done. We now lead this series 2-1, and have a chance to open the lead Wednesday with our second game at home. Something tells me it will be another one for the record books....


Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Weekend on Ice

Toyota Sports Center has become my home away from home most weekends. The Kings practice there, my friends all skate, there's always hockey going on, and there's just something about being around ice even though you have the option of being at the beach every day that's just...well, fun!

Spending Friday nights at TSC is usually guaranteed since my friend Mike plays in a rec hockey league there. Jen and Brianna live really close by, so instead of hanging out at a bar, we go get Starbucks, spend the evening gossiping, and watch our Caribou at play. It costs less, it's safer, and we still get to scope cute guys.

Now, our guys keep it pretty straight up with the jersey names. Mike's last name is Timoney, so that's what he wears, even though his nickname with the team is "T-Money." Their opponents this evening choose to wear their nicknames on their backs. It's hard to read in this photo, but the guy to the right of Mike is called "Diver Dave." Make of that what you will.

Now each "season" the teams change up a bit, and last weekend I noticed this majorly hot dude that joined the league. SO majorly hot, in fact, that the girls and I stayed to watch for a bit after the Caribou were done playing. And as luck would have it, we played Majorly Hot Dude's (that's his name now) team tonight! Too bad he got a game misconduct and spent part of the evening like this (when he wasn't camped out in the penalty box).

Of course, this would be the ONE night I forgot my regular camera when I switched purses, so this photo was the best my camera phone would do. Look for close-ups of Majorly Hot Dude in a future post.

Saturday, I was back at TSC with Nadine and John to help our friend Michael celebrate his 16th birthday with a skating party!

I did actually get on the ice, but I don't balance well enough to skate and take pictures, so I mostly got ones of Nadine and John. The birthday boy is actually an amazing skater and he was WAY too fast for my camera skills.

John, in particular, was an easier target because he stops a lot (he skates like me).

The funniest part is that Nadine and John actually wear the same size skates, so those are HER hockey skates he's wearing. I think that deserves some rabbit ears!

Then Sunday, my beloved Kings returned from Vancouver, ready to play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Play-offs first round back at Staples Center. But first practice was in order, and since I rarely get to go during the regular season with my work schedule, I decided to camp out and get some practice shots. I took a TON, so I only posted my 3 favorites.

First up, the Clunatic himself, forward Rich Clune. Some of my best action work to date.

I HAD to include at least one Drew photo, and he stayed still long enough for me to catch him. That doesn't happen every day, let me tell you...

And then there's Mr. Popularity himself, defenceman Matt Greene. He was doing his fake stretch routine and having a fun conversation with Sean O'Donnell when I took this. Possibly my favorite practice shot ever in the history of practices.

If you're a Kings fan and don't already hang out with me on Facebook, here's a link to the rest of my photo gallery from practice.

And don't be afraid to ask me to be your friend, either. I haven't met a Kings fan yet I didn't like.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kings Stanley Cup Play-off Season: Round 1, Game 2 - "In The Zone"

In the aftermath of the Kings Game 1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks Thursday, most of hockey people I follow, both friends and professionals, were pretty happy with the Kings performance overall, happy we lived to fight another day without too much real damage done. One person apparently wasn't happy enough-- Kings Head Coach Terry Murray.

He responded the morning of Game 2 by announcing two key veteran players, winger Justin Williams and defenceman Randy Jones, would be removed from the line-up.

The Jones benching wasn't all that surprising. He started well when the Kings acquired him mid-season, then suffered a concussion and just hasn't been the same since. A Jones-created turnover eventually led to the game winning goal for Vancouver in Game 1. Fair enough, right?

The Williams situation was more interesting, because he plays on the top line. He hasn't been bad by any stretch of the imagination since returning to the line-up from a serious ankle fracture. He was even OK in game 1. But maybe he came back too soon, because at least in Murray's eyes, his game hasn't completely returned. And his explanation about removing Williams was simple -- he's a veteran player who knows what it takes in the play-offs, and he should be doing more.

That was a lot of food for thought as I made the walk down to LA Live with Nadine and John for the Kings official Watch Party at ESPN Zone. Our friends Scott and Shawna Rousseau joined us, and I think we did a great job representing with the "Back in Black" look!

The Kings were even selling eye black patches with LA Kings on them. GAME ON!

Kings mascot Bailey was up to his usual tricks, entertaining everyone and being the life of the party.

I'm sure the ESPN Zone management loved having him.

It was another hard fought game, and the Canucks fired first with two fast goals in the first period. The second one, scored by Mikael Samuelsson (who also burned us for a goal in Game 1), I'd like to have back. I'm sure Quickie would like that one back too.

But the thing I love most about this team is they don't understand the word "quit." They came back with two goals of their own in the second, and definitely shifted the momentum our direction in the third. Ah, the joys of a team with young legs! Especially those of Drew's roommate, Wayne Simmonds. Simmer was ON FIRE the whole game! Taking full advantage of the bump up to the top line to replace Justin Williams, Simmer battled like a beast along the boards, protected the puck well, and drove hard to the net, scoring the game tying goal.

It took another OT period to finally get it done, but Anze Kopitar broke it open with the game winning goal, assisted by the incredible defensive power play tandem of Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson.

Then the ESPN Zone crowd absolutely ERUPTED! Everyone was screaming, hugging each other, jumping up and down, and cheering like mad. And then the beautiful reality set in - our team had won their first play-off game in 8 LONG YEARS!!!! And judging by the way they looked tonight, it won't be the last one.

Game 3 on Monday at Staples Center will be MAYHEM. Count on it! I'll be loving every minute from Section 114.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kings Stanley Cup Play-off Season: Round 1, Game 1

Having your team finally make the Stanley Cup Play-offs after 8 long years is sheer joy. Waiting for the series to start is nothing sort of agony. My stomach was upset, I couldn't sleep...I was worried and excited at the same time about the start of the Kings play-off experience.

So it was nice to see the city of Los Angeles finally wake up, remember we have a pretty great hockey team, AND put them on the front page of the sports section.

Hmmm, 8 years since the last player wears number 8.....WOW, I think I just felt little hairs raise up on the back of my neck!!! We have GOOSEBUMPS, people!

The Kings were sponsoring a "Watch Party" at the ESPN Zone downtown, but instead I headed down to Redondo Beach to enjoy Game 1 with Jen and Brianna at the Redondo Beach Cafe. Much more mellow, great hockey fans, and poutine! And BEER!

We were all on the edge of our seats the entire game, which was fast paced and awesome. Just everything you want from play-off hockey. Although Vancouver also has these creepy green things that haunt the players in the penalty box...

Jeez, am I glad I'm not a Canucks fan. And going to RBC instead of ESPN was a stroke of genius, since I forgot there was a Taylor Swift concert at Staples Center. Traffic getting home was stupid crazy!

The Kings, unfortunately, did not win, but I was so proud of how they played, and the game went into overtime before the Canucks finally got the go-ahead goal. If we keep the same level of intensity throughout the series, we're gonna be just fine.

So now the nerves are gone, and it's all about the joy of the play-off experience. I'm looking forward to some more kick-ass Kings action at Game 2 on Saturday. You can find me at the ESPN Zone across from Staples Center if you want to join the party.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Shoppers Guide to the NHL Play-offs

Now that the regular season is over and it's time for the Stanley Cup Play-offs to start, it's time to open your wallets, Hockey Fans! Because while the Cup play-offs are, first and foremost, an incredible display of physical hockey prowess, steeped in many years of tradition, with the ultimate sports prize on the line, they're also a money maker, both for the NHL and the team you hold near and dear to your hearts. So let's talk for a minute about stuff you need to buy, or in my case just WANT to buy, to enhance your play-off experience.

First, you gotta have tickets.

How much you spend depends on a number of factors, such as season ticket holders deals, etc. No matter what deal you get, let's just say you're gonna spend more than you would during the regular season for the same seat. But you know, when you've waited 8 years for a sniff at the play-offs, you don't mind so much.

Next, you've gotta have the proper fan attire, starting with the right jersey.

Now, I already own SEVERAL Drew Doughty jerseys, and my good old purple and black has been good to me this season. But I think it was a little tired after a long season and needed a break. Then the Kings announced the "official" jersey of the play-offs this year was the "Back in Black" model. Yup, the only one I DIDN'T have. But this purchase makes me dress code compliant and gives Drew something else to sign for me.

Of course, if you're normally a little cold during games like me, you also need something to wear UNDER the jersey. But it is starting to feel like spring in LA, and there will be a LOT of people packed into the arena during games, which means body heat, so you don't need something heavy. A t-shirt is the answer! And literally the day after the Kings clinched their play-off spot, these appeared in the team store at Staples Center.

Do I have other Kings t-shirts already? Yes. Do they say Stanley Cup Play-offs? NO. And they definitely don't have the player roster on the back. This is HISTORY people! It must be added to my t-shirt collection.

Finally, because I'm a girl, accessories are needed. I already have my Kings heart necklace and my NHL Dream Capsule that I wear to every game. But the play-offs are a special time....and the Brighton store has these great beads you can use to design your own made a play-off necklace!

Kings colors, of course, and one bead for each of the 7 games I'm predicting we'll play until we win in the first round against the Vancouver Canucks. When we officially make it to the second round, I'm gonna start adding a bead for every win.

So that's my shopping list! Tell me Kings fans - what's on your play-off shopping list? I'll look forward to your comments.

And as always....GO KINGS GO!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kings vs Oilers: Appreciation

The Kings final home game each season is officially known as "Fan Appreciation Day." For me, it normally signals the beginning of what I like to call "The Great Depression," that horrible moment when I first acknowledge I'm seeing my boys for the last time until August.

This year, thankfully, is different since the Kings will see play-off action for the first time in 8 long years. But there is still that twinge of sadness, knowing the end is in sight and summer is almost here.

Missing my boys is the main thing that makes me sad, but the end of the season also means I don't get to share hockey every week with some on my favorite people on Earth. They are my Kings hockey family, and I love them more than words can say. So this blog is my way of showing MY "fan appreciation" for the people that make me love hockey, and the Kings, so very much.

To Brianna and Jen Wells

You are the crown princesses of all the Kings faithful. From the socks, to the signs, to the inside jokes, and everything in between, you've made my days following the Kings colorful, crazy and fun. There is barely a person in Staples Center that DOESN'T know one or both of you, and they all love the way you light up their world. We still need to get together on that little music project we talked about (nudge, nudge....) so I'll be seeing you this summer!

To Jay Flats

Your enthusiastic smile lights up every game and makes it special. You are so wonderful and welcoming to every fan you meet, and your energy is unstoppable and crazy. And having you skateboard up behind me and call out "Hey, pretty lady!" when I'm walking home always puts a smile on my face. And yeah, you're funny as hell and you keep us laughing on those nights when the Kings are making us ready to cry. I'm happy to be your staff photographer anytime. You know where to find me.

To Michael Timoney

You ARE the Kings Crew! No one loves the Kings more than you. You've been dressed as an elf, a Star, a huge white bear, and a million other things his season, and rocked the craziness every time. You're still the most accurate t-shirt cannon shooter in the business, and playing t-shirt slingshot with you at Tip-a-King still ranks as one of my favorite memories from this season. And you're a pretty good hockey player in your own right - Go BOU!! I will ALWAYS be your one and only "Timoney-cam" operator.

To Rachel Craig-Parker

You are the one person on Earth who understands what capturing a memory visually means to me. Thank you for tolerating my big hair in your sight line and listening to my musings on life. You are a unique spirit, and I know I made a friend for life when I met you this year. And you're the only person I know with powerful enough karma to make the perfect sign fall right out of the sky and land at your feet. Keep it coming!

To Luis

For most of your co-workers, being an usher is a job. For you, it's a calling. I will miss your weekly hugs, the roster card you leave on my seat, and all the fun little things you bringing candy at key moments! I look forward to seeing your smile at every game, and I'll truly miss you over the summer. And if your bosses even THINK about reassigning you from Section 114 next year, there will be a riot!

To Nadine

This is all your fault, and I love you for it every day. So many of my favorite hockey experiences, this year and every year, have happened because of you. Being your video queen wing man has been a blast, and you're never getting rid of that "We Believe" sign, because I'm convinced it has luck attached to it. And thanks in advance for giving up your seat for the Kings-Caps Cup final this year so I can keep your husband company while you go commune with your Caps family. But I'm keeping the sign....

And in honor of his incredible career, I do have to throw in one special "official" appreciation mention, to the incomparable Bob Miller

Every time I listen to other sportscasters cover hockey, I realize how truly privileged I am to listen to you talk about the Kings. You're the best in the business, and Los Angeles is lucky to have you. Thank you for all you do, every day, every game, every season. The play-offs will be more special just because you're there.

Finally, I haven't posted a video in a while, so I wanted to share a little piece of Drew participating in the finest player-fan tradition I've ever seen in sports -- giving a fan the jersey off your back.

Thanks to all of you for everything you do to make my life a little happier every week. I am your biggest fan.