Friday, May 10, 2013

California Strawberry Festival


Summer is just around the corner, the weather is warmer, and the days seem just a bit longer.  That means it’s time for some outdoor fun and what better way to kick things off than this weekend at the 30th anniversary of the Annual Strawberry Festival in Oxnard, California where you can experience more ways to use strawberries than you could ever imagine from strawberry shortcake to strawberry wine and a whole lot in between.  This family-friendly festival boasts neat events like strawberry pie eating contests, Strawberryland rides, arts and crafts, and so much more.  In addition to oral delights, there’s a slew of aural delights with a full line-up of music from just about every genre of music you can think of (http://strawberry-fest.org/entertainment.html). 

The event runs Saturday, May 18th through Sunday, May 19th, from 10:00am-6:30pm. Tickets are $12 for Adults ($8 for military and dependents with ID and seniors), $5 for children 5-12, kids 4 and under are free. 

The Festival location is at the Strawberry Meadows of College Park at 3250 South Rose Avenue in Oxnard, CA.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Share Breakfast

Of the many hats I wear, I count being a mother as the highest honor and biggest challenge. Being a mom means striving to provide the very best for your children, worrying if you’ve made the right decisions or just play done enough. One of the greatest tasks I’m faced with on a day-to-day basis is ensuring that my children eat well so starting their day off with a healthy breakfast every morning (no matter how chaotic). Proper nutrition is of the utmost importance because it gives the energy to get them through a busy day of learning and helps them focus on their workload rather than on a rumbling tummy.

I cannot imagine not being able to meet my children’s basic needs, but for some American families it’s a real issue. The Kellogg’s brand has stepped up to combat and raise awareness of child hunger in their third annual “Share Breakfast” campaign. The campaign aims to provide one million breakfasts to children throughout the country via Action for Healthy Kids grants.

On March 5th, Share Breakfast spokesman and actor, Taye Diggs, made an appearance at Hollywood and Highland to speak on the subject of childhood hunger and unveiled a display of a massive red spoon made up of 160,000 smaller spoons. Kellogg’s will donate $1 for each spoon that visitors take from the display. "Usually when you hear about childhood hunger it's dealing with another country," Diggs said in his speech. "I think it's important to let people know that this issue is affecting kids in our country."

Junior Correspondent, Ajani LynĂ©e, interviewed Mr. Diggs after the unveiling and asked him about his thoughts on the quality of meals currently being provided in schools which are often free or low-cost to families with reduced incomes. “I’m the less sugar the better,” said the Private Practice star. “I think what’s most important is that you eat a solid breakfast so you can start the day off right.” (I couldn’t agree more)

We contributed by each taking away a spoon, but if you can’t make it to Hollywood and Highland, you can do you part by visiting www.sharebreakfast.com and watching two Kellogg’s Great Start videos narrated by Taye Diggs. Each time the videos are watched, shared or tweeted with the hashtag #sharebreakfast, Kellogg’s will donate breakfast to a child in need. It’s that easy!



Monday, March 4, 2013

SEPHORA by OPI: I Come in Peas

I can show you better than I can tell you...

This pretty shade of green goes on nicely and shows well in 1-2 coats. Love it for spring! ($9.50 at Sephora)

Monday, February 25, 2013

You put what in my what?

When I first laid eyes on Vosges chocolate bars at Whole Foods about two years ago I scrunched up my nose at it. BACON??? In chocolate? Who does that? But for some reason I kept going back. Each time a little less judgemental but still a bit skeptical. A time or two I placed one in my basket only to later think better of it and put it back. Why spend $6.99 on something that may be utterly disgusting? Bacon and chocolate. Pfff!

Then last night I noticed that they had .5 oz bars and I thought to myself, why not? At less than half the price, even if I hate it it’s only a small investment. Aaand it could just be really good...

So this morning I’m sitting at work with a sweet tooth when I remember that the odd confection was still in my bag. I’m always more adventurous at work for some reason. I took just small nibble, you know- just in case. The first thing I noticed is that the bacon is light and crispy and it’s almost like a rice krispies, but it’s much more savory. A perfect combination of sweet and salty (which I happen to love). It’s creamy “deep” milk chocolate and hickory smoked uncured bacon and it’s divine. Literally the best chocolate I’ve had in a long time. No regrets here! And in case you were wondering- there are no nitrates or nitrites in the bacon. Just a little something I look for in my meats...



Hiya, Honey!

As a kid I never much cared for honey. I didn’t care how they dressed it up with in that teddy bear-shaped squeeze bottle, I wanted no parts of it. To me, it tasted like booty or what I thought booty might taste like. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was suffering terribly with seasonal allergies that I gave it another go. Someone somewhere (I can’t remember who) suggested trying a raw, local honey to help alleviate allergy symptoms via immunotherapy. Basically building the body’s resistance to allergens that had been giving me the blues. Like I always do, I paid a visit to Whole Foods (because that’s where the good stuff’s at, right?) and consulted with one of their employees. I wasn’t looking for flavor in my honey, I just wanted some natural relief in lieu of depending on OTC meds. Of the many varieties of honey, the clerk suggested a local sage honey from Honey Pacifica. I took his word and off I went.

The initial impression was based on looks alone. First of all, it had a honeycomb in it . What was I supposed to do with that? Can you eat that? Weird. I had no intentions of taking a spoonful of this stuff alone, so my grandfather suggested I mix the honey with ground cinnamon and put it in my tea. Again, what do I know? So I did what he said and I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t say that the honey or tea did anything miraculous for my allergy symptoms but what it did for the flavor of my tea was undeniable! I tasted it by itself and it was clear that this honey was something special. It’s sweet like sugar but not at all overpowering and it doesn’t have that artificial/nasty taste that I associate with most other honey varieties.

I started replacing sugar with Honey Pacifica Sage Honey on all sorts of things: My oatmeal, smoothies, cinnamon toast- you name it. In fact, I haven’t purchased sugar in three or four years now. I never figured out the purpose of the honeycomb in the jar (although I’m certain there is one) and it kept getting in the way so I stopped buying that particular variety, which is fine because I found a larger jar sans honeycomb that lasts much longer for about $20. But even with that I’m running through a jar every two months or so.

I’m still learning a lot about this brand that I’ve come to love. Like the fact that it is a real deal family-run business that’s been around as long as I’ve been alive, so they’ve got this thing down. They make all sorts of other products that I’ve only recently discovered like flavored honey in peach, raspberry, lemon, and pear. I haven’t found these in any of the Whole Foods stores I shop at but they are available online at www.honeypacifica.com and the local farmers markets they frequent (their schedule is on their website). If you’re able to get your hands on some, I highly recommend it and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment away!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Globies are Here!

Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! The Globetrotters have arrived in Southern California!! I couldn't be more excited as I've never seen them live but my family and I will be checking them out tomorrow in Anaheim, but if that's not close to you, they'll also be in Ontario and Los Angeles Sunday and Monday. Get your tickets now at http://www.harlemglobetrotters.com/tickets and use promo code: USFAMILY to save $7 per ticket.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Until We Meet Again...

Some of you may have noticed I’ve been MIA for the last two weeks or so. Unfortunately we have been dealing with a death in the family and I have been traveling back and forth between Los Angeles and Pennsylvania. I’m just getting settled back into my routine and thought it would be a good outlet to write. Specifically, I want to talk about Mommy.

Belinda Chase was my husband’s aunt on his mother’s side and she was the closest thing to a mother-in-law I ever got to know (K’s mother passed nearly 15 years ago). She helped to raise my husband and his brother while their mother was on tour and treated them as she treated her own children. As such, she treated me as her daughter-in-law and I was grateful for it. In fact, when my husband and I argued, Mommy would often come to my defense and help my husband to see things from a woman’s perspective. He trusted and valued her advice so much so that he semi-jokingly credits her with the longevity of our marriage thus far.

I’ll never forget my first trip to meet my husband’s family; I was so worried about how I may be received- if I would make a good impression or say something stupid. But the moment I met Mommy all of that melted away as I was embraced by her warmth and good-natured sense of humor. She was full of so much love it’s as if it spilled over because she couldn’t seem to help but let you know it in every encounter. She left the world in that same fashion- surrounded by those closest to her, telling them how much she loved them and not to grieve for her because she was happy. Her passing saddens me because I can’t pick up the phone and call her anymore, but I know we’ll see her again. In the meantime, she left behind a group of amazing children and grandchildren with her same positive outlook on life and who love in abundance as she did. I couldn’t ask for a better family to have married into.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Preparing for a Deployment

I never would have imagined that my husband (who was in the music industry when we married) would come to me at age 35 and tell me that wanted to enlist in the Army Reserves. Umm... Hello? Even then he didn't go the traditional route because after he finished BCT he enrolled in school to get his BA and joined ROTC. So there's been a lot of trainings (LDAC, BOLC, etc), but nothing as long or as intense as a deployment. I still lead a very civilian lifestyle with no real connection to other military families for advice or resources while he's completely immersed himself in the Army one. The acronyms... The politics... How to properly salute... It's Greek to me. All I really know is that he is my heart and he's going a way for a very long time. How to deal???

I began reaching out to other military spouses via Twitter and found a very supportive virtual community that helped me to understand certain aspects of the lifestyle. And when I found out that after five years, my hubby was (is) finally facing deployment, I reached out to Krystel at Army Wife 101 and she shared a super helpful post full of tips on preparing for a deployment. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate each and every single tip. If you're going through any sort of separation from a loved one, a lot of these suggestions would be useful in so many instances. But especially if you're soldier is going to be away for a while.

Check out the post here: http://armywife101.com/2013/01/another-top-10-ways-to-prepare-for-a-deployment-from-the-army-wife-101-readers.html



Friday, January 18, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Build A Bear Harajuku Hugs Panda

One thing I seem to say a lot when talking about my children is that kids today are more sophisticated than I ever remember being.  They know more, use words I have to look up in a dictionary, and they dress like miniature adults.  Gone are the days of paper dolls and baby dolls. The bar has been raised! Our little girls are fashionistas so it seems reasonable that our daughters would want their teddy bears to meet the same standards, right?  Enter the Harajuku Hugs line of stuffed toys from Build-A-Bear Workshop...


Build-A-Bear Workshop introduced Harajuku Hugs Panda today and gave me the opportunity to share her with my daughter.   She instantly fell in love with the bear's heart-shaped marking around her eyes and her pink ears and feet.  Of course the next order of business was the bear's clothing and accessories which reflect rocker Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Lovers brand of japanese pop art-inspired style.   Some of her favorites were the black bow headband and Harajuku Hugs shoes.  I personally loved the Harajuku Hugs heart dress.  Adorable!  


Your little style maven can make her own Harajuku Hugs Panda at your nearest Build-A-Bear Workshop or online at www.buildabear.com starting at just $20.  And one lucky reader has the opportunity to win one here by entering below...


Nails! Kristen

This is a lighter, yet funkier hue that I'm kind of in love with at the moment. It's a light, greyish blue that just seems to go with everything. I wouldn't call it a sky blue unless maybe a cloudy sky blue. Perhaps more of a light denim blue. I don't care what you call it, Kristen is fabulous.

I bought this along with two others as part of Zoya's 2013 promo (three lacquers free- just pay shipping). Unfortunately the deal is over but as I've said before, they're worth every cent at full price.

What you see in the picture is one coat (no filter). I may go back and add another coat because there are some parts where it's a bit sheer but I think I'm probably the only one who notices.


Honoring Dr. King

What I want my kids to know is what Dr. King stood for and not view the holiday as just another three day weekend. Dr. King fought and died for his belief in equality for all mankind. Regardless of your political affiliation, it goes without saying that he laid the groundwork for how far we have come since his passing. I'm grateful as a bi-racial woman, I share the same basic rights as my Caucasian mother and that I can tell my multi-racial children that they can be anything in the world they want to be as long as they work hard for it.

I'll be playing for them the powerful "I Have a Dream" speech (Sirius subscribers can listen in on channel 48 on Monday). It is the 50th anniversary of the famed speech.

I have also scoured my resources for Los Angeles area events where Dr. Kings life and memory will be honored. Here are just a couple I plan to take the kiddos to on Monday...

At the California African American Museum from 11:00-5:00, The Dream @ 50 Awards acknowledge young artists work celebrating the life of Dr. King, followed by Cake for King at 4:00. (Free)

Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena will honor Dr. King in a celebration of service, community and friendship from 9:30-5:00. Kids can plant trees in the garden, make a friendship mural, and make cards and bracelets for troops and veterans. Rhythm Child performs at 1:00. ($10)

How will your family celebrate the memory of Dr. King?



Monday, January 14, 2013

Free Game Rental @ Redbox Kiosk

Text the word GAMEKIDS to the number 727272 to receive a code good for a FREE one night game rental at Redbox.
Expires 1/31/13

Nail Color of the Day

OPI San Tan-Tonio

2013 Golden Globes Best Dressed

LOVED the always flawless Jennifer Lopez in Zuhair Murad. She was, hands down, my favorite. Lea Michele looked great and I loved her dress but the accessories? Not so much. I also loved Zooey Deschanel's simple but elegant look. I'm throwing in RHOA's Nene Leakes as an honorable mention. Loved her look and that she did something a little different. Worked for her.
Lastly, best moment for me was Denzel with daughter Olivia as his date. Love it.









Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Event/Giveaway: "You Write the Rules"

I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching Scooby Doo cartoons every week. Some of the best episodes (or episode? I was too young to understand the concept of reruns) were when the Harlem Globetrotters guest starred! I had no clue they were an actual basketball team until a little later, but I was even more entertained seeing real life Globetrotters handle the ball the way they did and still do. I have always wanted to see them live so when I heard they’re coming to town next month, it was a no brainer- I’m taking my family to see them in action!


President’s Day weekend, the Harlem Globetrotters will be swinging through Southern California on their 2013 “You Write the Rules” World Tour. And what’s really cool is that for the first time ever fans will be voting to decide the game’s rules! That could mean anything from playing with two basketballs at once to getting double the points for each basket a player makes. Head over here to vote! (I voted for players to use two basketballs- picture that)

Tickets (starting at $17) are on sale now at www.harlemglobetrotters.com and venue box offices, but I want to give one lucky L.A. Mama reader the opportunity to spend special quality time with your loved ones at Globetrotters game! Enter below and tell me your unique “new rule” idea for the Harlem Globetrotters basketball tour. You will be entered for a chance to win a family four-pack of ticket vouchers to one of the following games (winner’s choice):

Saturday, Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. – Anaheim – Honda Center
Sunday, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. – Los Angeles – STAPLES Center
Monday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. – Ontario – Citizens Business Bank Arena



Yay or Nay: Candy Yum Yum

Trying Mac's Candy Yum Yum today. My first impression is that it's VERY bright, but it's growing on me. I think I could have went with a darker liner to tone it down some. Thoughts?



A Message to Readers

I’ve posted a couple of lipstick reviews since re-launching and I thought it would be worth mentioning here that although I’m 34, I’m a baby in the make up game. I have never been able to get past the way my skin has a tendency to react to make up so I pretty much steered clear of it my whole life. I definitely feel like I missed out on something while my friends were spending hours in the make up mirror or hanging out at the MAC counter, but it’s never too late to learn. I’m making it my mission to find the perfect one-step foundation (if such a thing exists), learn the art of contouring and perfect the smoky eye (because in the past it’s looked more like I have a black eye and that isn’t lovely). More importantly, though, I need to learn how to make my adult acne-prone skin behave!

Look forward to more make up reviews and just know that I’m winging it so it’ll be trial and error. I welcome and encourage constructive criticism, tips and suggestions so please have at it. You’ll have to pardon me if I get over enthusiastic about product. You’ve been warned.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lavender Lips: Power vs Asian Flower


On the left is Nyx Power lipstick and on the right is Mac Asian Flower.


First up: POWER


My thoughts:  Nyx lipstick in Power is highly pigmented for such a light color.  It is lavender.  Period.  Power is different but it works because it's so feminine.
 Feel:  This is a Nyx Extra Creamy Lipstick and it lives up to it's name.  Glides on creamy smooth.  I love it.
Cost: $4

Next: Asian Flower



My thoughts:  Mac Sheen Supreme lipstick in Asian Flower is easily the pinker of the two and I would actually call it more of a violet than a lavender (which is what I was looking for).  It's sort of sheer but still really pretty.  Not as dramatic as Power.  
 Feel:  I was expecting a more moisturizing feel but it felt only slightly smoother than other lipsticks.  I was thinking it would be more velvety smooth.  
Cost: $16


The Vertict?  I bought Asian Flower first, looking for something unique.  When I bought Power I was sure I had a dupe on my hands but clearly, they are very different shades.  Surprisingly I preferred the Nyx lipstick at a fraction on the cost.  Not just because it was the exact color I was looking for, but one of the major deciding factors was the creamy feel of it.  Love it.


A Twist on Chicken Noodle Soup


It's winter time and that means hearty meals in my household.  But it's also the first of the year and that's about when we try to be a little more health-conscious and start tweeking traditional recipes.  Two things inspired this twist on chicken noodle soup.  The first is that I've been sick since Christmas Eve and it just seemed like the right thing to do.  The second is that I recently attended the Barilla National Spaghetti Day twitter party hosted by the Resourceful Mommy blog.


During the twitter party the subject of healthy eating came up and a lot of new products I wasn't aware of were mentioned.  Veggie pasta was one of them, so I set out to the grocery store to find some.


Now, what I love about soup is that there's so many ways to make it your own (and it's super easy because I'm super lazy).  I added edamame, ground chicken, navy beans, green beans, onion, sea salt and veggie pasta to an organic chicken broth (the EVOO was for the onions) and in about 20 minutes we had a hot, hearty, healthy meal.


It never ceases to amaze me how someone so not domesticated can love food so much.  

Work in Progress: Reboot

Goodbye to the sweet laziness and carefree indulgences of the holidays. Hello to grunting, sweating and sore muscles of the new year. I’m a week late due to illness, but it’s time to get back to my grind. Yesterday I cleaned out my refrigerator and cabinets, tossing out half-empty bottles of soda used for mixing cocktails (going to be taking a break from those too). I threw out the last of my grandmother’s shortbread cookies (how those managed to survive in my household as long as they did is beyond me). Chips, candy, etc- you get the idea. GONE. And last night I visited three separate grocery stores, restocking my bare shelves with healthier snacks we all actually like. Here’s a short rundown:

Trader Joes: Anti-OXidant trail mix; refrigerated edamame in the the pod.

Whole Foods: Kopali organic dried mango; fresh cut fruit (I’m still lazy); Mary’s Organic fresh ground chicken, Tinkyada brown rice pasta; 365 organic frozen vegetables.

Vons: Ocean Spray cranberry grape juice (sans high fructose corn syrup; Cinnamon Chex gluten-free cereal; Rice Dream rice milk; gala apples, bananas, Berry Quick prepackaged blueberries; Naked Juice Power C Machine.

Tip: If you have healthier snacks on hand, you’re less likely to go out searching for it’s less healthy counterpart.

And next week I will make my triumphant return to my boxing class. I’m willing to bet that coach takes one look at me and puts me in the ring. I deserve it.

I’ll let you know how it goes, folks…




Thursday, January 3, 2013

Foodie Chronicles: Yummy Cupcakes- Caramel Corn Test Run

So, I'm home sick, lying in bed this afternoon not thinking about a cupcake at all.  Then this happens...



I think to myself- You know, the boys have been really great about letting me rest the last two days.  They deserve a treat!  So I drag myself out of bed looking like death warmed over and make the trek down the street to Yummy Cupcakes in Burbank.

It's been a while since I've been to this particular confectionary, but I've always stayed with the safer flavors like the cute, pink Happy Day cupcakes.  These caramel corn things were questionable at first glance.  I mean, there was actual popcorn on top of my cupcake!  My little guy, on the other hand, was pretty enthusiastic and quite frankly it was free so if I didn't like it, nothing lost.

Now, I have to mention that the offer posted on the the @YummyCupcakesLA Twitter feed is either misleading or the staff here aren't quite on the same page because when I presented the offer to the lady at the register, she politely told me it was good for one per group.  In my haste, I hadn't brought my wallet with me so I figured, cool I'm off the hook an the boys can split one.  But me being me, I felt compelled to point out that the offer did not say one per group, but rather it stated "first 25."  She agreed to verify it with another staff member who stated it was good for adults only.  Hmmm... Doesn't say that either.  I didn't press the issue but I think she understood what I was saying so she threw in a smaller version of the cupcake to make three.  Cool.


Anywho, we get home and the boys dive right in.  I look on skeptically, but I don't see any "yuck" faces (believe me, they are quick to let you know what they don't like).  So it's time for me to stop being a weenie and try the darn thing...


The verdict?  OMG!  Yum.  The cupcake is a bit more dense than the cupcakes I bake for myself.  Not quite moist but not dry either.  Really good.  But what got me was the thick caramel buttercream frosting.  It's both sweet and savory.  So rich that the mini cupcake was just enough.  To say that I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement.  I want that again!  Thumbs up!

Sorry, New Year's resolution.  You're going to have to wait another day or two...


Throwback Thursday

Here's an Expo TV review of my Canon Powershot Elph from June 2012...



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year?


What a world, what a world... The start to my year has not gone quite as planned.  I had intended to return to work today and then hit the gym hard since I've been on hiatus for a minute.  I had a list and that's exactly how it was supposed to go down.  What I did instead, however, was drop my car off at the shop as it had recently bottomed out (Merry Christmas to my mechanic) and promptly return home to crawl back into bed after dosing myself up with a shot of Nyquil.

There have been a few other, much bigger bumps in the road that have occurred today that I won't go into detail about.  I could get depressed about it.  I almost did.  I could worry that this could be an indicator of how the rest of 2013 will go.  Almost went there too, but I'm not.  Because at the end of the day, no matter how bad it gets, I have an amazing husband and family by my side.  My oldest son has been doting on me all day and my youngest came to cuddle with me.  My husband called to give me one of his world famous pep talks that I need oh so much to put things back in perspective.  My foundation will NOT be shaken.

I say all of this to say that no matter how your year has begun, it's up to you to make it what you want it to be.  Happy New Year?  You betcha!



Thank you, Santa! (Christmas Haul)

video

I must have been a very good girl this year, because Santa hooked me UP!  The hubby came through with the Michael Kors Hamilton bag I've been coveting.  My mom got us some really cute wine glasses from Target and a big honkin' bottle of pink Moscato (yum!).  My daughter, the little artist that she is, drew me some beautiful cherry blossoms- LOVE.  I got a photo phone case from Modern Posh that I adore and my stocking was filled with Goodies from MAC including the sold out Seductive Intent Mattene Lipstick (YAYYY!).  You did good, Santa!  High five.

Kids haul coming soon...