MALOUF Z Travel Pillow

The MALOUF Z Travel Pillow is NANCY APPROVED!

Typically, when I travel, I take my favorite memory foam pillow with me – it is king size and weighs around 100 pounds, not really, but really… 

Since it was agreed to pack sensibly for our August road trip, an alternative pillow solution was required – enter, the MALOUF Z Travel Size Memory Foam Pillow!

When you search for memory foam travel pillows on Amazon, you will quickly see that MALOUF Z has an abundance of options to select from. 

After much research and reading of reviews, I purchased two styles to try out:

Travel Dough Memory Foam (traditional memory foam style pillow) and Travel Dough Memory Foam + Z Gel (memory foam with “Cooling Z Gel” for a cooler sleeping surface). 

The travel size for both is 12” x 16” x 4”, which is a tad smaller than what I am used to (smiling), but both styles provide a comfortable night’s sleep with no stiff neck in the morning!

The washable cover on the pillows is soft enough to use as is, or you can use a pillowcase.

The pillows come in their own protective case for easy carrying or pack it away in your travel bag.

Price is reasonable and if you are a traveler, it is worth trying out!

Road Trip – The Beginning

AAA Membership & America The Beautiful Annual Pass are NANCY APPROVED!

My husband and I took a road-trip of the Pacific Northwest in August.  During a three-week period, we traveled over 5,000 miles starting from our home in Los Angeles to Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada and back.  We made multiple stops in-between seeing such beautiful areas as Mount Hood and Trillium Lake, Mount Rainier, Glacier National Park and more!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be featuring some of the awesome road-trip highlights that achieved NANCY APPROVED status.

However, before we hit the road, there are two NANCY APPROVED items that are must-haves to ensure an excellent trip, they are: AAA (American Automobile Association) Membership and America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreations Land Pass.

I am a 16-year member of the Automobile Club of Southern California.  In addition to Roadside Assistance your membership provides access to thousands of discounts, travel planning services and more.  When I prepped for our road-trip, I geeked out (a bit) when I went to my local AAA club to obtain road maps.  You see, I really like maps and I really like using my internal-human navigational skills – just like I used to before the AI days of Waze and Google Maps.  More importantly, the maps are handy to have available because you may not have cell service when you travel to remote areas.

Furthermore, you never know when you will need that Roadside Assistance. While in Montana, the keys to our truck were accidentally locked inside of it – 20 miles from cell phone service or civilization.  After a kind Montana local gave me a lift into town, I contacted AAA and 45 minutes later, their representative Vince picked me up and took me back to the truck to unlock it.  Dependable, friendly and efficient service!

National Park Services sells the America the Beautiful Annual Pass for $80 which provides you access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.  The pass covers entrance fees, standard amenity fees and day use fees for driver and passengers (up to four adults).  100% of the proceeds are used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services at the various locations.  The pass quickly pays for itself and sometimes affords you the privilege of skipping long lines to enter a park.  Discounts apply for Military, Seniors and 4th Graders.

Also, if you think you will only use the pass only on your road-trip, think again.  It is perfect for those California weekend trips to Joshua Tree, San Francisco, Yosemite and so much more!

To learn more about AAA services and benefits as well as acquiring a National Park Services pass, follow these links:  AAA membership and America the Beautiful Annual Pass

CUISINART ICE CREAM MAKER

Cuisinart Ice Cream Make Model ICE-21

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker is NANCY APPROVED!

I scream. You scream. We all scream for ICE CREAM!

I love ice cream and advancements in DIY ice cream making has become so easy thanks to the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.

I purchased my Cuisinart machine over 10 years ago, and it has been a worthwhile addition to my various kitchen tools. It is incredibly easy to use, reasonably priced and has been a loyal companion in producing delicious ice cream. Of course, I am the one creating all the delectable flavors, but it does spin-spin-spin in circles to deliver the final results, which I cannot do.

Here is how easy it is:

Freezer Bowl has been in your freezer for 24 hours or more

Select your favorite ingredients

Mix and chill your ingredients as appropriate (The time to chill is optional, but I recommend it)

Place the chilled mixer in the freezer bowl with paddle

Add cover and turn the machine on

After 20 minutes or so you should have yummy ice cream

Variables include how cold your freezer bowl is, the temperature in your kitchen and desired texture

You can create soft serve or firm ice cream as well as frozen yogurt and sorbet. The machine comes with multiple recipes to help you get started, which I found very useful in the early days.

As you see, I use the Cuisinart Model ICE-21, but they have lots of other fancy models with various perks. It all depends on how much you want to spend and your needs, but again, for the price and ease of use, the Cuisinart ICE-21 has been consistently terrific, and this is why it is NANCY APPROVED!

Howard Brown and Sons Auto Body

Howard Brown & Sons Auto Body & Paint is NANCY APPROVED!

It was an overcast cool February day in the People’s Republic of Santa Monica. I was at my day job, sitting in front of my computer working on one of my many projects when the phone rang.

My caller ID revealed it was “Security” and I thought to myself, “Oh no. What’s wrong now?” The friendly and loyal voice on the other side said, “Nancy, I’ve got some bad news for you. There has been an accident. A visitor backed-in to your car, and there is damage.”

His words confused me. I was not expecting his call to be related to me, let alone my car. You see, my European vehicle was properly positioned in my employee parking spot on the top level of a four-story parking structure out of harm’s way. Hmmm, well, I thought so at least.

Indeed, a Hollywood agent visiting the office put the pedal to the metal and ran his $100k + Mercedes backward into my parked vehicle. I know shit happens, but when you see the video – yes, it is ALL on video – you cringe, because it really could have been avoided. After the agent tried to schmooze me that “his guy” could take care of the damage, I dismissed him and proceeded to research auto body repair shops. 

After several phone calls and much internet research, I found Howard Brown & Sons Auto Body & Paint. I spoke with Brad who told me to stop by at my convenience for an estimate; it would take 5 – 10 minutes. I was a bit wary as it seemed too easy however, I gave it a shot.

The next morning, I popped in at my convenience and as I got out of the car, Brad walked out to assist me. He immediately knew who I was based on our phone conversation from the day before.

From this point forward, my entire experience with Howard Brown & Sons was PERFECT! 

Brad was very clear on the process, duration and cost throughout my entire experience.

After the on-site review, I had the written estimate with the note if there was interior damage, they would work it out with the insurance company. Indeed, there was some and that is exactly what they did!

My Perfect New Bumper 4 Months Later

When it was time to repair the damage, the shop made sure they had all the parts in place so there was no needless delays or inconvenience without my vehicle. They completed the job ahead of schedule and the work was flawless. My bumper looked brand new (and still does). Dents gone, paint job even, and a perfect color match to the rest of the body. I was as happier than a seagull with a French Fry.

In addition to the bumper, I had Howard Brown & Sons replace my front windshield as it was cracked from flying rocks. The price was reasonable and the glass they used was a better quality than the original. 

The cherry on top of all of the exceptional work is they took the time to detail my vehicle – inside and out – before returning it to me…Above and Beyond!

My experience isn’t a one-off. I have recommended Howard Brown & Sons to two friends and they both have had the same positive experience. 

The need for auto body work is stressful as there are many sharks out there that will take advantage of you. You do not need to worry about that with Howard Brown & Sons. 

Howard Brown & Sons is a family of good trustworthy people who care, and consistently do their job very well. This is exactly why Howard Brown & Sons Auto Body & Paint is NANCY APPROVED!

SOCAL ARTIST NEAL BRETON

Southern California Pop Artist Neal Breton is NANCY APPROVED!

Neal Breton is an eccentric-bearded-pop artist whose immediate persona is a bit cantankerous, but once you are past his gruff exterior, you get to know a passionate, gentle, meticulous man who has been in a long and tumultuous relationship with his craft.

“The Servant” Pools Series

Curator, as well as artist, Neal’s unique vision, has been creating colorful eye-catching worlds – big and small – for over 20 years. His work has been exhibited in numerous California galleries as well as others across the country. Most recently, his piece “Another Evening Poolside” was one of 30 pieces in a group show at the Palm Springs Art Museum for their 30 x 30: 30 Years of Public Art in Palm Springs x 30 New Ideas.

Neal tends to become obsessed with a specific theme and then sets out to create every iteration of that theme until his head and heart are adequately satisfied. However, it isn’t too long before the next one enters and becomes his muse of the moment. 

Currently, “Pools” and “Hardline” are the headliners. Pools series epitomizes life in Southern California with its palm trees, blue skies, architecture, cacti and more. Variations can include these marvelous characters that inspire you to get yourself poolside with a beverage in hand ASAP! Hardline series is a visual extravaganza of lines, patterns, colors, textures, and dimensions. The pieces transport you to another location for a truly wondrous experience.

Paramount Pictures Commission

I’ve purchased Neal’s art throughout his career and commissioned him as well. He has always been a pleasure to work with as he listens, offers feedback and delivers on time! Two commissions in particular were for Paramount Pictures and Skydance Media. The Paramount piece was in honor of the studio’s 100th Anniversary. Neal took the multiple iconic images the studio is known for and intermingled them into one unique heartfelt piece. For Skydance, Neal interpreted the company’s “S” logo into contemporary pop art, which is a fun and stylistic memento.

Neal is a Southern California artist that is wildly talented and can create almost anything you desire. Learn more about Neal and his work at NealBreton.com, Instagram or if you are in the San Luis Obispo area, check out the galleries. He is a local favorite!

WHOLE BODY METHOD PILATES

Whole Body Method is NANCY APPROVED!

Strengthening. Lengthening. Centered Body and Mind. These are just a few of the results you will experience after a Pilates class from Whole Body Method! I speak from experience – I’ve been taking group and private classes with them since 2013.

Whole Body Method is “Classic” Pilates at its very best! Daria Di Benedetto and Nigel Sampson are the power duo behind this Los Angeles business, which has been operating for 22 years. Their current studios are located in Mid-City and Koreatown.

Evening at Whole Body Method Mid-City

Whole Body Method was way ahead of the Pilates trend, and is true to Joseph Pilates’ method, “body conditioning is an exercise system focused on improving flexibility, strength, and balance for the total body. It is a series of controlled and systematic movements coupled with focused breathing patterns engaging your body, mind and spirit.”

This means Whole Body Method ain’t a rock-n-roll-overpriced Pilates studio with teachers yelling over loud music – while you struggle on a piece of equipment (aka the reformer) – that no one has informed you how to use. Sorry Not Sorry.

Whole Body Method offers classes from beginner to advance levels with well-trained professional instructors, who all happen to be very personable. I especially enjoy taking a class with Co-Founder Nigel Sampson, a true Master of Pilates. While taking you through your breathing exercises and body movements, Nigel gives you a peek at his quirky Australian sense of humor. However, he is seriously passionate when it comes to human anatomy and regularly pulls out “Harry” a model of the human spine, to exemplify proper technique and form. It is because of Nigel that I know there are 26 bones in the vertebral column (includes the sacrum and coccyx) and where my occipital bone is located, amongst a few other things!

The exceptionally Zen ambiance at Whole Body Method ensures a positive work-out experience. Multi-talented Co-Founder Daria Di Benedetto creates the awesome vibes with her extraordinary taste and eye for style. She has a panache for decorating and creating spaces with subtle nuances that make their studios stand out from the rest. Daria is an artist at heart and adorns the studios with her craft, including multiple iterations of her LOVE paintings. A personal favorite!

Interested in becoming a Pilates instructor? Whole Body Method is the place to do it! They offer Pilates Certification Programs throughout the year and limit the size of the class to provide an intimate and safe learning environment. Whole Body Method hosts special programs such as 30-Day Whole-Body Wake-Up, Healing and Meditation workshops as well as Nutritional products and forthcoming in September, Whole Body Retreat located at the beautiful Koorakai Desert Retreat near Joshua Tree.

Whole Body Method focuses on Classical Pilates with a holistic approach.  It is a balance between body, mind and soul that elevates your experience to another level.

Learn more on their website Whole Body Method and be sure to check out their special offers for new clients!

Veuve Clicquot

Veuve Clicquot Champagne is Nancy Approved

Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label and Veuve Cliquot 2008 Vintage

Let’s break out a bottle of the bubbly to toast my first Nancy Approved post with my favorite champagne, which happens to be “acceptable” as well as approved, Veuve Clicquot!

Veuve Clicquot and I met in the mid 2000s and it was an instant match. Veuve immediately became my preferred companion at an event, a night out with the girlz or in the middle of a hectic work day.  (Oops, did I just admit that?!)

Toasting with Friends and Veuve Rosé

Brut Yellow Label was a regular as well as the Vintages, but it was Rosé that stole my heart and became “the champagne” for me, and at every special event I produced! Since 2010 through today, Veuve Rosé has been at my events that range from an intimidate setting of 4 to a grand occasion for 5,000k+.

Champagnes from the House of Clicquot are consistent in their quality. While I’ve clearly enjoyed a variety, the fact I could successfully serve my event guests their Veuve Rosé or Brut Yellow Label was all I needed to know. The reasonable price point is a bonus as well.

The Clicquot House was founded in 1772, by Philippe Clicquot. Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin married his son François who prematurely died, so in 1805 at the age of 27, Barbe Clicquot née Ponsardin assumed control of the house.

Madame Clicquot would soon be known as “La Grande Dame of Champagne” with her innovative techniques as well as her savvy business sense. She was a successful female entrepreneur who held her own amongst the best.

In 1972, the Clicquot House marked its 200th Anniversary by creating the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award, a tribute to that entrepreneurial spirit. Today, they continue their campaign of female leaders as they unveiled for the first time, an international barometer that maps out the current state of female entrepreneurship.

I am pleased to know that a product I enjoy as much as Veuve Clicquot is also conscious about, and supports, women in today’s business world. 

Check out Veuve Clicquot champagne and you too might find it is a perfect companion for you!

Please remember to drink responsibly.

Credit: Veuve Clicquot

WELCOME!

Nancy Approved Seal

Welcome to NANCY APPROVED!

This is my personal blog where I positively feature various businesses, persons, locations and products I like!

I am known to have strong, well let’s say, very specific opinions. For years there has been a running joke with my friends that if “Nancy Approves” something, it is acceptable. They even made me a “Nancy Approved” stamp!

So, I decided to take this to the next level, and share my approved findings with others. I am only focusing on positive reviews – nothing negative – because I feel we need more positive on a daily basis.

Whatever, whomever or wherever I’m posting about, has met Nancy essential A-Level criteria that is worthy of recognition, which means:

  • Exceptional customer service and/or craftsmanship
  • Quality and care in a product and/or service
  • Someone who clearly enjoys what they do and exudes that enthusiasm
  • Going above and beyond
  • People out to make a difference in our fast-paced ever changing world
  • Excellent food and/or places that I like + More!

I hope you find my posts informative, inspiring or simply, worth a chuckle.

Thank you for visiting Nancy Approved.