About Me

My photo
Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
I recently completed the 2016 Summer Program in the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. I received a BS Degree in Radio/TV from ASU and a MA Degree in Technical and Expository Writing from UALR. I hope I can help others through my Blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram Accounts.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Pop Pop Shoppe!

416 South University
Suite 130
Little Rock, Arkansas  72205
(located next to Gigi's Cupcakes in the Park Avenue Shopping Center)

Today is the grand opening of the new Pop Pop Shoppe in Little Rock!

Last night I attended a special VIP Party for the gourmet popcorn store.

Pop Pop Shoppe, founded in 2014, offers fresh, high-quality handmade gourmet popcorn and other foods, including fudges and candied pecans. The company also acts as a partner for local businesses and organizations providing programs for employee relations and sales staff. Pop Pop Shoppe provides fundraisers for school and other nonprofit organizations as well as custom-made gift baskets and specialty "popcorn bars" for weddings and other events.

There are more than 25 flavors of Pop Pop Shoppe popcorn available, ranging from plain butter to spicy Cajun and from sweet Wedding Cake to fruit Cherry, Blueberry, Banana or Grape. You can purchase everything from an individual serving of fresh popcorn to gift baskets featuring different types of popcorn in colorful or holiday themed tins.

The Pop Pop Shoppe offers sport themed tins such as the Arkansas Razorbacks!

Small gift tins, such as the Halloween themed ones on the bottom of this shelf, contain two bags
of popcorn and are wrapped with ribbon for $21.99.

There's a Butter Machine where you can add your own butter to your popcorn!

The Pop Pop Shoppe also provides fudge!

Hours of the Little Rock Pop Pop Shoppe will be Monday - Thursday, 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

For more information, see the Pop Pop Shoppe.

Arkansas Women Bloggers had a great time at the VIP Party!

All pictures by Leslie Dianne

Friday, September 30, 2016

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Earlier this summer, I learned about the Cancer Moonshot 2020, a new cancer research project that aims to accelerate different types of cancer treatment. I had learned a lot about the initiative in June, Cancer Immunotherapy month. I had just started my Cinematic Arts classes in the summer program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and wasn't able to write the entry at that time. It's now September, which is also Blood Cancer Awareness Month (Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma) and I want to share some of the Cancer Moonshot 2020 findings on my blog.

As a 15-year cancer survivor, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma at age 39 on November 8, 2000 after suffering multiple symptoms, including chest pains, weight loss, fatigue and night sweats, for almost one year. Three days after I was hospitalized and received my cancer diagnosis, I began chemotherapy and three months later started radiation treatment.

You can read about my cancer treatment experience in this blog entry that appeared on LymphomaInfo.net in July 2013 - http://www.lymphomainfo.net/share/surviving-lymphoma/surviving-lymphoma-and-life-s-challenges-leslie-s-story

Family Photo Christmas Card 2000
Photo taken in November 2000, a few weeks after I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
My husband, Stewart, and I started a family tradition after the birth of our oldest daughter, Lauren, in 1993, of having an annual Christmas card photo taken and mailed to all our family and friends. In the 2000 Christmas card photo, Lauren is 7 years old and Sara is 3 years old.

Easter Day 2001
Sara (4) & Lauren (8)
and I'm wearing my
'Laura Bush" wig
Throughout my life, I can remember cancer affecting friends and family members. Friends from high school and college, co-workers and relatives. It seems that everyone has been affected in one way or another by cancer. And then came my cancer diagnosis in November 2000, eight days after I turned 39 years old. I then spent the next seven months going through cancer treatment and approximately two years recovering and gaining my strength back. I tried to maintain positive, reading as much as I could about Lymphoma, and continued to create special moments with my two daughters and husband. On May 17, 2001, I was declared 'in remission' by my Oncologist, Dr. Lawrence Mendelsohn. My husband Stewart took me to Fort Walton, Florida for a week to celebrate. After we returned from the beach, I was able to spend the summer with our two daughters, going to parks and picnics, and sometimes just staying in the house, watching videos and playing with Beanie Babies! I also discovered that I had some additional  medical issues, including digestive problems and osteoporosis. Cancer doesn't just affect the patient, it affects the whole family. I was so lucky to have the love and support of my family and friends during the time before, during and after my diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

My husband, Stewart, with our two daughters, Sara & Lauren,
on Easter Day 2001.

The Cancer Moonshot initiative will try and break the mold of traditional cancer treatment. The chemotherapy treatments will be replaced by vaccine based immunotherapy tailored to each individual. Even rare cancers like mesothelioma and lymphoma see hope with the immunotherapy treatments. Many new treatments for these cancers have seen promise with immune targeting. The following video explains about the Cancer Moonshot.

You can read more about the establishment of Cancer Moonshot, which was led by Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau Biden to brain cancer in 2015, by clicking on this link to an online article from the National Cancer Institute.

On November 8, 2016 (Election Day!) it will be 16 years since I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. I'm proud to be a cancer survivor and have volunteered for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society and Race For The Cure. I've written a newsletter for the families of children fighting cancer and several blog entries for different cancer support groups.

In the years since I went into remission from cancer, my husband and I watched our two daughters grow up from little girls into kind, smart and beautiful young women. Tragically, Stewart passed away suddenly at age 52 from an undiagnosed pulmonary embolism on May 10, 2012, when I was 50 and our daughters were only 19 and 15 years old. In May 2015, my oldest daughter graduated from college and now lives and works out of state and my youngest daughter graduated from high school and is currently a sophomore in college.

Leslie, Sara and Lauren Doan
Christmas 2015

For more information about Cancer Moonshot 2020, please see the Medium page dedicated to the mission, this blog post, the Facebook page, or the Twitter feed.

Cancer Moonshot 2020 Graphic

Friday, September 9, 2016

Movie Review - Sully (2016)

Photos from IMDb

Movie Description:  The story of Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, who became a hero after gliding his plane along the water in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009, saving all of the airplane flights 155 crew and passengers, also known as "The Miracle on the Hudson".

Release Date
:  Friday, September 9, 2016

Running Time
:  1 hour and 35 minutes

Biography and Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): 
Rated PG-13 for some peril and brief strong language.

  Clint Eastwood


Todd Komarnicki (screenplay)
Chelsey Sullenberger (based on the book "Highest Duty")
Jeffrey Zaslow (based on the book "Highest Duty")


Tom Hanks as Chesley 'Sully" Sullenberger

Aaron Eckhart as Jeff Skiles

Laura Linney as Lorraine Sullenberger

Mike O'Malley as Charles Porter

Leslie's Notes

I saw this movie last night at a special preview showing at 7 pm in Little Rock. The theater was about half full but the audience was very enthusiastic! This is my first movie review I've written since I completed the summer program at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I always watch movies with an eye for all aspects of production - costumes, lighting, sound, and camera angles - along with the acting and dialogue. But for this movie, I was especially tuned in to how much a great production it is along with being a wonderful movie. Director Clint Eastwood had the daunting task of recreating an actual event with actual people and to make it look realistic without looking fake or deceptive. The result is a very suspenseful, astonishing and factual movie that kept my interest from the very first scene to the credits, which resulted in clapping from the small but enthusiastic audience I was a member of.

While I was in California this summer I met a man who "recreates" airplane scenes for movies and television shows. He was involved in aircraft production for many years and was asked to help with a project because real airplanes can not be used, so he has a new career designing aircraft for film and television productions. I wonder if he worked on this movie. I thought the entire movie was great, from the acting to the scenes shot in New York City. I can remember when this actual event occurred, and I can remember my late husband, Stewart Doan, talking to me about it because he was able to watch the rescue process live on television at the time. I think he would have loved this movie too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How did you get here?

First Day Of School!
University of Southern California - June 27, 2016

At the end of May 2015, I saw a new physician as part of a required medical exam. After I shook his hand, introduced myself and sat down, he sat down as well, pulled out a notebook, looked at me and asked, "How did you get here?"  I paused, thought a minute, and then answered, "Well, I filled out a form in the spring, then I received a phone call and a letter last week that said to come here today." The doctor shook his head, leaned forward in his chair and said, "No, I meant how did you get here - to this appointment? Did you drive yourself or take the bus?"

For years, I have asked myself that same question. "How did you get here?" After my cancer diagnosis in 2000, after my husband and I both suffered job layoffs, and then again after my husband died suddenly of an undiagnosed pulmonary embolism on May 10, 2012, leaving me as a 50-year-old widow with two teenage daughters.

The past four years have brought a lot of changes in my life. I've seen my oldest daughter graduate from college and move to Boston as a young professional. My youngest daughter graduated from high school and is now starting her second year at an out-of-state university. Both girls have grown into kind and caring young women and I am so proud of each of them.

After taking early retirement last year due to medical issues, I continue to blog and also volunteer for "Shop My Closet", a resale store that supports widows and orphans in Kenya and also assist local charities. I recently sold my house in West Little Rock. The place I've called home for the past 12 years. It was a hard decision but one that I needed to make for financial reasons. A wonderful young family purchased my house and I am happy that they are now making it their home.

I moved into my parent's house, along with my 12-year-old dog, Oreo and 7-year-old cat, Lilly. I also did a lot of research online about writing programs, something I have always been interested in. After receiving a BS Degree in Radio/Television from Arkansas State University, I worked in Public Relations and Advertising for a couple of years before pursuing a career in Technical Writing. I've always been fascinated by television shows and movies. Watching hundreds of movies through the years, reading scripts and writing movie and television reviews became a favorite hobby.

Which leads me to the title of this blog entry - "How did you get here?" I just returned from spending six weeks in Los Angeles attending the summer program at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

I viewed this opportunity as my Eat Pray Love or Under The Tuscan Sun moment (without the hunky love interest)! So on Monday, June 13, I left Little Rock and started my drive alone to California in my red Jeep.

Here are some of the highlights of the past nine weeks of my life

  • Spending the weekend of June 17-19 attending "Camp Widow" at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, meeting others from the widowed community from all over the world.

Beautiful San Diego!

  • Walking past actor Nathon Fillion in Chatsworth, California.

Framed poster of Stana Katic & Nathan Fillion of Castle hanging in the School of Cinematic Arts Building at the University of Southern California.

  •  Meeting many new friends in my two SCA classes - The Writers Room: Sitcom Writing and TV/Film Industry - that ran from June 27-August 5.
Volunteering at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) Awards Ceremony, Los Angeles

  •  Talking on the phone to Michael Hitchcock, Co-Executive Producer and Writer for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and former Co-Executive Producer and Writer on Glee. Through my TV/Film Industry class, I was required to schedule a General Informational Meeting with someone in the industry who we admired or looked up to. With the help of my instructor, Eve Light Honthaner, I called the Production Office of the show and also sent Mr. Hitchcock an email requesting a 15 minute meeting. He later emailed me back and scheduled a phone interview for the following morning. The next day he called me at the scheduled time and I asked him to describe a typical day of working on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and what advice he would give an aspiring writer. He told me all about the writing process of a television situation comedy, including how a Writers Room works, and having to get approval from the Executive Producers and the Network to finalize each hour episode of the musical comedy. He said that he started out as a typist after obtaining a Master of Fine Arts degree from U.C.L.A.'s film school. I was also delighted that I was speaking in person to Dalton Rumba, Show Choir Director for the Haverbrook School for the Deaf from Glee!

    Writer/Producer/Actor Michael Hitchcock

  • Going to the 4th of July fireworks display at the Rose Bowl with my youngest daughter, Sara.

July 4, 2016

  • Meeting Director/Actor John Famenesh-Bocca and Producer/Actress Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing from Dallas and Mary Alice Young from Desperate Housewives!) at the July 30th Film Festival of NewFilmMakers Los Angeles. I also watched four different short films at this event and attended a Q & A at the end of the screenings with the filmmakers.

Far left - Director John Famanesh-Bocca and Producer Brenda Strong of I Did Not Forget You.

Ulu (Poland), Aayushi (India), & Leslie (Arkansas)

  •  Visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Statue in front of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

I had a great time during my stay in California, learned so much during both my Cinematic Arts classes, experienced being involved in several different television productions, made amazing new friends and also reconnected with wonderful old friends. In the past, I've been yelled at by former co-workers and judged by former in-laws, so it was so refreshing to be appreciated for just being me. For not having people roll their eyes at me because they think I'm stupid, but to have someone tell me I am an inspiration to them.

School of Cinematic Arts Building at the University of Southern California - August 8, 2016

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Leslie In Los Angeles

I found the following definitions from the website dictionary.com that make up the five descriptive titles found in my blog profile:

Mother - a female parent.

Survivor -a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

Writer -a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.

Blog - a website containing a writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.

Widow - a woman who has lost her spouse by death and has not remarried.

I'm about to start a new adventure with my life - attending a six week summer program for Comedy Writing and Television/Film at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Yes, me, a 54-year-old mother and widow.  But as you can see from my profile that I am also a writer, a blogger, and a survivor. And with all these things together I am moving on with my life.

My new title is summer student with the Cinematic Arts Program at USC. I will be just like every other college student - living in an on-campus apartment and taking the shuttle to classes. Except that I'm probably old enough to be a parent of the other students. It's scary and exciting all at the same time!

It's also fitting that I will be attending Camp Widow in San Diego next weekend. It's a place where I will meet others from the widowed community from all over the world.  I will be able to participate in workshops, seminars and also go to a Padres baseball game!

So as I proceed on with my new journey I will also carry my memories with me.

Family/Church/Business Trip to Washington, DC
July 2011

Friday, May 20, 2016

Restaurant Review - East End Cafe

Approximately 26 miles south of Little Rock sits one of Saline County’s best kept secrets – East End Cafe. This comfortable restaurant not only serves delicious home cooked food, it also doubles as a dining and entertainment locality.

Fried Catfish Dinner with Fries & Coleslaw

Opened in September 2012 by the Taylor family, East End Café offers a free community library, live music on Tuesday nights, daily meal specials and is also available for private parties. With the slogan “Come as Friends, Leave as Family!” printed on each menu, East End Café certainly lives up to this phrase. Having previously run corporate dining operations, owner Todd Taylor said he wanted to have a family focused restaurant.

Diners will find the following services available at the East End Café:

  • Community Library

Offering hundreds of books donated by customers located in a special section of the large dining room, customers are welcome to select as many books as they want to take home and read and either return at a later visit or keep! Volunteers weekly help sort and shelf the books, both paperback and hard copies. On a recent visit to the East End Café, various types available included children’s books, cookbooks, novels and a thriller written by author John Grisham.

  • Special Events

East End Cafe provides live entertainment every Tuesday night from 6:00 - 8:00 pm, daily dinner selections (Thursday - Steak Night, Friday - Fish Friday, Saturday - Salmon & Sirloin) and annual events such as the recent Crawfish Boil to offer both food and fun to its patrons.

  • Delectable Home Cooked Meals
Hand-Battered Chicken Fried Chicken Dinner with Mashed Potatoes and Fried Okra

One of the highlights of East End Cafe is all of the savory food the restaurant offers From Salads and Burgers to Sandwiches and Homemade Desserts, everything is great!  I have personally eaten almost everything available and its all been delicious. My family lives near East End and my mother heard about the Cafe last year and took my father to eat there.  While I was visiting one weekend, they both took me to eat there and I loved it!  I've been there several times, including eating there for Valentine's Day Brunch this year where our waitress, Jade, was so gracious and helpful. The wonderful food brought us to East End Cafe and the great service keeps us coming back. Everyone, including all the wait staff and manager Ricci, is always so nice and friendly.

East End Breakfast includes huge Pancakes, Ham & Cheese Omelets, and Egg Breakfast Plates

One of the main draws to East End Cafe is the daily homemade desserts including the delicious bread cobbler.

 East End Cafe
20622 Arch Street Pike
Hensley, Arkansas


Leslie Smith Doan, a native Arkansan, is a retired Technical Writer and active blogger. She enjoys traveling and attending special events with her two daughters, ages 23 & 19. Leslie lives in Little Rock with her two rescue pets, Oreo, a black & white Australian Shepherd and Lilly, a calico kitty. She blogs about her personal experiences as both a cancer survivor and widow along with movie reviews and humorous essays.You can find Leslie online at her blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest


Sunday, April 17, 2016

As One Chapter Ends, Another One Begins...

This is the view I saw as I drove away from my soon-to-be former home on April 9, 2016

On July 1, 2004, my husband, Stewart and I moved into a new house with our two daughters, then ages 11 and 7.  It was a two-story brick house on a corner lot in a great neighborhood. It quickly became our dream home, a place where we celebrated birthdays, Halloween parties, and hosted holiday dinners. The day after our first Christmas in our home we welcomed a new puppy, a black and white Australian Shepherd Lauren named Oreo and a few years later we rescued a calico kitty from under a trailer at Sara's elementary school that she promptly named Lilly.

Days turned into weeks, months and years. Our two cute little girls grew into kind, smart and beautiful young women. Sleepovers and Girl Scout activities phased into week long youth choir trips and summer camps. Memories of dance lessons, middle school and high school programs, attending the Hannah Montana concert the same week Lauren appeared in the Children's Theater Christmas play remain along with Easter Egg hunts and midnight movie premieres.

As I think back about our time spent in this home, I remember when Lauren traveled to Germany at age 16 as part of an exchange program through Little Rock Central High School. Over the years, we hosted more than a dozen German exchange students through this program and enjoyed every minute of it. Lauren continued to pursue her love of foreign languages, graduating from college last year with a double major of International Relations and German and now lives and works out-of-state for a non-profit organization that coordinates seminars.

Since my husband and I both studied Journalism, it's not surprising that our daughters both are "news junkies" and inherited our love of news, current events and film.  Lauren was on the Newspaper Staff at Central and Sara served on the Yearbook Staff. Both have attended conferences and conventions in these fields.  Every weekday night Stewart and Sara would watch Brian Williams on NBC Nightly news in the early evening and Anderson Cooper on CNN every night and Lauren would watch 60 Minutes with her father every Sunday night.  Sara is now a Journalism/Public Relations major in college and is looking into future internship positions at television stations.

As I look back over the years we spent living in our home, I realized we had many wonderful memories, including the trips we were able to take. Disney World, several beach vacations and a journey to Hawaii in January 2012 were places we were fortunate to travel to as a family. Now a new family has purchased the house and will make their own memories there.

Christmas 2007 in our home