Saturday, December 24, 2011

I know where Santa is - Do you?

Did you know that Santa has already started his deliveries this year?  It's already Christmas in parts of the world!

Have you found the NORAD Santa tracker yet?  It's become a tradition in our house to monitor Santa's progress across the world.  The folks at NORAD have turned their technology to assisting kids (and adults!) keep an eye on where Santa is at.  It adds a super fun element to the day!  As a kid I remember going out looking for Santa, but now with technology the kids can check in on Santa in their pj's too!

As a parent I love it because they have gone to extraordinary efforts to create videos and other geography lessons and it is educational for the kids as they learn small snippets of information about other parts of the world.  Last year my boys spent most of Christmas Eve checking in on Santa's location.  It was so much fun!

Here's the most recent video of Santa at the Taj Mahal, India.

Have Google Maps on your phone?  You can also simply type in "Santa" and it will load Santa's most recent location.

Thanks NORAD for taking the time to share such fun holiday cheer!  The site can  access here.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Dinner Recipes from Carapelli plus Coupon!

I prefer to cook with Olive Oils rather than butter whenever possible because it's just plain more healthy.  I'm always on the lookout for unique and new recipes to cook with and wanted to share these delicious recipes from Carapelli Olive Oil.  I'll be trying the Brussel Sprouts with Carmelized Onions tomorrow!  Be sure to head here for a special $1.00 coupon on Carapelli 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

Tuscan Roast Turkey

Serving Size: 16

1 16-pound young turkey
Kosher salt, to taste
1 cup Tuscan Herb Paste
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons celery salt
3 fennel stalks with fronds, rough chopped
3 onions, large dice
1 stalk celery, small dice
2 1/4 quarts chicken stock
3 ounces all-purpose flour

Remove giblets from turkey’s cavity, rinse cavity and pat dry, set aside. Season turkey inside and out with Kosher salt.

Mix Tuscan Herb Paste with crushed fennel seeds and celery salt. Starting at the neck of the bird, slip your hand between the meat and the skin to loosen.  Rub half the paste mix under skin, and rub remaining paste inside the cavity and over the rest of the turkey. Season all over with kosher salt.

 Place two-thirds of the chopped onion and fennel stalks inside cavity. Truss bird.

 Place turkey in a roasting pan. Roast at 400°F for 30 minutes.

 Reduce temperature to 325°F and continue cooking the turkey to an internal temperature of 160°F, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Baste turkey often during cooking with juices from pan. If turkey begins to overbrown, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.

 As turkey roasts, simmer giblets (neck, heart and gizzard), the other one-third of the fennel stalk, onion mix and diced celery in 1 quart chicken stock until tender, approximately 1 1/2 hours.

 When turkey is done, remove from roasting pan and set aside to rest. Degrease roasting pan, reserving 3 ounces of fat to make a roux.

Deglaze pan with a small amount of chicken stock. Transfer stock to a saucepot, and add remaining stock and broth from giblets. Bring to a simmer and degrease.
Make a blond roux with reserved fat and flour. Add roux to the liquid, whisking well to prevent lumps. Simmer 15 minutes. Strain gravy through a fine-meshed strainer. Adjust seasoning.

Tuscan Herb Paste
Yield: 2 1/4 cups

3/4 cup Carapelli Extra Light in Taste Olive Oil
1 cup Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon fresh basil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1/2 packed cup fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Blend herbs and crushed red pepper with light olive oil using a blender or food processor, then stir in extra virgin olive oil.
Serving Ideas: Rub under the skin of turkey for Tuscan Roast Turkey. Use to flavor vegetables for grilling and mushrooms for roasting.

 Olive Oil and Herb Mashed Potatoes

Serving Size: 12

10 8-ounce potatoes, (about 5 pounds) peeled and cut in half
3/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup Tuscan Herb paste
1/2 cup Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup heavy cream, warmed

Boil potatoes in salted water. When cooked tender, mash potatoes. Mix salt and pepper with Tuscan Herb Paste, olive oil and warm heavy cream. Fold into potatoes.

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Prosciutto

Serving Size: 12
2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, blanched, quartered
4 tablespoons Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion, julienned
1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Trim stem end of Brussels sprouts. Discard wilted outside leaves. Boil in salted water until cooked through (about 7 minutes) until just tender. Shock in ice water. Quarter the cooled sprouts.
In large skillet over medium high heat, caramelize onions in olive oil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from pan. Place in bowl, mix with prosciutto.

In the same skillet, over high heat, lightly brown Brussels sprouts. Add onion-prosciutto mix, toss.  Deglaze by adding white balsamic vinegar and scraping bottom of pan. Season with salt and pepper.

*Note no compensation was received for this post - but products were provided to facilitate the review.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Last Minute Easy Craft Gift #ElmersHoliday #GlueNGlitter #CBias

My favorite presents have always been the handmade gifts, especially ones made by the children in my life.  I love continuing this tradition and having my sons make gifts each year.  One gift I keep coming back to year after year is a tree ornament.  They have a special place in the holiday celebrations, are easy to make and it's a great way to get kids in the Christmas Spirit.

This year I have been super short on time and extra energy so when it came to an easy gift for the kids to make I fell back on my trusted ornament.  I headed down to my favorite Super Walmart (you can follow along on Google+ here).  I absolutely love my local Super Walmart because it's like one stop shopping.  You can get everything on your list and know you are getting the best deal out there.  You don't have to shop around and waste gas running around everywhere to find the lowest prices.

This year the boys and I put together a fantastic ornament that costs less than $1 each, so they are absolutely fantastic gifts for neighbors, family and friends.  They also make fantastic accent pieces on presents!  Simple enough for the boys to make, yet flexible enough for me to make a few more elegant ones.  This project is fast and easy!

For this project you'll need a basic ornament (you can be creative and use any of the wide variety of ornaments, ones that are already glittered to semi-clear ones and the prices at Walmart can't be beat).  Elmer's Glitter Glue Pens (LOVE THESE!), X-ACTO Precision Scissors, CraftBond Dual-tip Flexible Pen, ribbon and construction paper.

Use your creativity and let the kids decorate the ornaments with the Elmer's Glitter Glue Pens, these are super easy for the kids to use!  Once you have created your design (note that the Glitter Glue Pen makes even the simplest "Merry Christmas" look elegant), let them hang to dry (I used the kitchen chandelier as a resting place).

Cut out the bows and glue them with the CraftBond Dual-tip pen and let them dry overnight.  Use the X-ACTO Precision Scissors to cut out a small square out of the construction paper and write to and from and loop on the ornament hanger.

In just a few short minutes you have custom made ornaments that Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles and more will cherish for years to come!

For other great craft ideas you can go to or Facebook here.

*Note:  This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #ElmersHoliday #GlueNGlitter #CollectiveBias #CBias  All of the opinions are completely my own and the products are ones I already loved.  :)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Easy Prepped and Amazing Desserts from fresh&easy!

Still planning that perfect dessert for your holiday party but running out of time?  Be sure to stop by your local fresh&easy to pick up some of these AMAZING desserts.  Trust me, they taste just as good as they look!  And yes, that is an absolutely scrumptious mini chocolate eclair hiding in the back...


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Free Specialty Coffees at Seattle's Best?

Sometimes I think coffee is the only reason I can get through my day.  A mocha a day keeps the the zzz's away, right? 

For those still doing holiday present shopping (which is most of us, right?) or prepping for those out of town guests be sure to stop in to your local Seattle's Best Coffee (Click here for locations) where you can get a free small beverage with the purchase of a seasonal bag of coffee.  This offer is good through January 3, 2012. 

If you're near the Culver Drive in Irvine location on December 17th or December 18th between 9am and 3pm, be sure to stop in and get a free reusable canvas bag (you can never have enough of these!).

I promise not to tell anyone you got a free Gingerbread Latte, Peppermint Mocha Trio or Sugar & Spice Latte when you bought their present...  :)


Monday, December 12, 2011

I Cry FOUL at the Spelling Bee

Life has been busy around our house for the last couple of weeks.  Really busy.  Last week my oldest was in the school spelling bee - picked as the top speller in his class.

To say that my husband and I were beyond proud of him for just being in the spelling bee would be an understatement.  We both re-arranged our work schedules to attend.  My son was a pile of nerves that morning, but we did our best to remind him that it didn't matter how he placed - we were SUPER proud of him anyway.  Little did I know I would turn in to one of "those" pageant moms that morning.

He was picked as number one in the order to go and he breezed through the words skating all the way to round four.  What really floored me was the one family that thought it was appropriate to bring their baby to the spelling bee.  I honestly think it was a tactic to mess up the kids.  The kids were nervous enough as it was that one cough, one cry, one random disruption really threw a kid off.  The vice principal had given the audience (including the several classes present) a stern warning about keeping quiet so as not to throw off the concentration of the kids.  I really think he should have directed that at the parents because the kids were great!

The baby cried more times than I could count and the mother had to get up numerous times just to calm the baby down.  The mother was oblivious to the glares from the parents every time the baby would cry.  I feel so bad for the kids who has this baby cry out right in front of them as they are nervously trying not to make a simple little mistake.  Don't get me wrong - I LOVE babies, I just think it is important to be contentious of the event you are bringing the baby too.  This is the perfect example of a time when it would have been better to leave the baby at home with a family member or baby sitter.

I sat there praying that the baby wouldn't cry during my son's turn - knowing how visibly nervous he was.  Round five began and just after the word "witness" was read a woman's cell phone went off.  OMG, my mother bear instinct kicked in.  I could have strangled her.  She darts up and goes running to the back door her phone ringing the whole way.  Seriously people?  Ever heard of silencing your phone?  Think that might be important to double check, triple check, heck even quadruple check that before the spelling bee begins?  Yeah lady, because I took the time to double check mine - it didn't go off during YOUR sons turn. 

My son missed that very word and who knows if he would have gotten it right without the phone ringing.  He told me later that he lost his focus when it happened.

But we are proud beyond belief of how well he did regardless of dumb dumbs who didn't respect the other kids in the spelling bee.

Gotta say... I'm a tad tempted to inform her of how obnoxious that was the next time I see her and anyone who knows me knows that I am one that runs from confrontation!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving last minute hints (or help!) for fantastic entertaining!

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving is off to a fantastic start!  I've been in my kitchen baking biscotti, scones and croissants all morning!  But I wanted to share a few resources (courtesy of some of my favorite go to magazines for everything household) for you in case your cooking doesn't go according to plan later today or you just need some last minute ideas ...

Your top Turkey Day problems solved! View a recent live chat with Real Simple food editors.

Follow this breakfast-to-bedtime plan and you’ll enjoy all the best parts of this holiday with none of the guilt.

 31 Easy Pie Recipes
Make your holiday meal complete with these festive, decadent desserts

Wow your table with these variations from Cooking Light on the 5 best-loved dishes on the Thanksgiving table: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, and pie.  Pick a dish from each category and you've got the ultimate Thanksgiving day menu consisting of classic recipes with delicious tweaks. talks turkey with advice for how to buy, cook, and carve your Thanksgiving bird.


Get inspired to create a Thanksgiving celebration your guests won’t forget with table settings that cater to your coastal style, and more.

Meet the farmers who are producing our favorite Thanksgiving foods, from heritage turkeys and heirloom potatoes to vine-ripened cranberries, farmstead flour, and exotic mushrooms. Delicious recipes and a local buying guide, make this an indispensable resource for any cook who realizes that the ingredients truly do make the meal.

Makeovers for Thanksgiving Leftovers
Here are few new ways to enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers

The holidays are right around the corner and now is the time to take care of the improvements you've been procrastinating about all year long. From dead doorbells and jammed doors, to caulking the bath and replacing broken tiles, here are our top quick fixes, and all the information you need to get the job done right.


Are you in line for those Black Friday sales yet?

This Black Friday is proving to be different than any other.  With stores opening on Thanksgiving to get a jump on Black Friday sales, planning your shopping has gotten even more complicated!  Do you skip dessert to get in line for the deals at Target (that opens at Midnight)?  Or do you start camping out right this very minute (yes, before your turkey is even cooked!)?  Well, I've got news for you, you're too late, unless you are reading this post from a tent camped in front of your local Target.  Yes, last night I saw people already camping in tents in front of our Super Target.  (I apologize for the picture above - I was trying to be covert about taking a picture!).

What Black Friday sales will or won't you be hitting this year? 

Below is a list compiled by to give you the inside scoop on the sales this year.

Kmart has taken the lead this year, opening at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. Toys R Us pulls into second place with a start time of 9 p.m., one hour earlier than 2010. Walmart takes third, opening at 10 p.m. on Turkey Day.

Doesn't anybody "Respect the Bird" anymore?

For those willing to brave crowds on a turkey-filled stomach or rise well before dawn, here is a list of opening hours for 15 major merchants, along with a special deal each is offering. Keep in mind that hours are subject to change and some states don't allow stores to open on Thanksgiving Day. For a comprehensive guide to Black Friday store openings and hours, check out

Ace Hardware - Midnight Friday
Enter to win a Craftsman 5-drawer Tool Center.

A.C. Moore - 5 a.m. Friday
Free $10 gift card to the first 50 customers.

Bealls - Midnight Friday
First 100 customers per store have a chance to win an iPad2, $250 gift card or $5 Bealls Bucks.

Best Buy - Midnight Friday
Best Buy will distribute entry tickets up to two hours before midnight.

Half Price Books - 7 a.m. Friday
First 100 people per store receive a tote bag and $5 gift card.

JCPenney - 4 a.m. Friday
Free collectible Disney snow globe, while supplies last.

Kmart - 6 a.m. Thanksgiving
Earn 20 bonus points for every $1 spent (twice the normal amount).

Macy's - 4 a.m. Friday
Shop online all day Thanksgiving.

Office Max - 6 a.m. Friday
Save $15 on a $100 VISA or MasterCard gift card.

Kohl's - Midnight Friday
Receive $15 Kohl's cash for every $50 you spend, through Nov. 27, with coupon from Black Friday flier.

Old Navy - 9 a.m. Thanksgiving and midnight Friday
Free Kodak Easyshare Sport waterproof digital camera bundle with $40 purchase (while supplies last).

Rite Aid - 7 a.m. Thanksgiving (at select stores) through 11:59 p.m. Friday
$10 reward when you buy a $50 Home Improvement gift card.

Sears - 4 a.m. Friday
Pick up a Real Deal Coupon Book with over $3,000 in savings that start Nov. 27 (while quantities last).

Sports Authority - 5 a.m. Friday
First 80 people in line at each Sports Authority receive Bonus Bucks valued between $10 and $500.

Target - Midnight to 11 p.m. Friday
Learn about unadvertised deals by texting "MORE TVs" to "Target."


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Moments of Meditation to Help You Survive the Holidays

I don't know about you, but the holidays are overwhelming me this year.  I just feel like I'm never going to catch up!

I've been a huge fan of Yoga and Meditation for years.  I just love that feeling of peacefulness after.  Unfortunately these days I just don't have the time to catch a Yoga class or sit down for a meditation session as much as I would like. 

Jeff Cannon author of The Simple Truth has put together the below guest post just for OC Mom Activities readers to help us make use of those spare moments in your day to center and ground yourself everyday during the craziness that is the holidays!

Moments of Meditation for the HolidaysThe Holidays are a time of joy and fun.  It’s a time for family and friends, holiday parties and of course the shopping.  But it can all get a little overwhelming no matter how much you enjoy them.  It’s why sprinkling your Holidays with a bit of meditation can be a good thing for you, and those around you.  Don’t worry you don’t have to set aside a half hour of solitude to enjoy the benefits of meditation.  You just have to take a breather from time to time as a way to maintain your equilibrium and enjoy the holidays the way YOU want to.
Here are five easy tips to do just that:

Breathe Deep

The key to real, ongoing relaxation is found in your breath.  It can calm you, lower your blood pressure, reduce your anxiety and keep you grounded no matter how quickly your world is spinning.  If you feel agitated, draw a full breath slowly into your stomach.  Feel your stomach expand for a slow count to eight.  Hold it for a count to two and slowly exhale it for another count to eight. Feel the air enter and then leave your body and focus on the sensation of your breath.  Take a few deep breaths to ground yourself when you first feel yourself start to spin.  Call it a mini-meditation and enjoy the calm it brings. 

Morning Meditation
There is no better time to set the pace of your day than when you first wake up.  Before you get out of bed in the morning, take a few minutes to notice your breathing. Put one hand on your stomach and take a few deep belly breaths.  Smile, as you feel your stomach rise and fall with each breath.  Don’t just jump into your day, give yourself the two minutes you deserve to balance your morning, steady your thoughts and guide your day in the right direction. 

Shopping Break Meditation
When your wits are at their end take a moment to sit by yourself.  Place your feet flat on the floor with your hands on your thighs.  Take a deep belly breath in, and feel your skin expand against your clothing.  Slowly count to eight on each inhale and each exhale.  Feel the calm start beneath you scalp and move down to your shoulders.  Identify each point of stress and take a moment to allow your inhale to wrap around it, relax it, and take that stress away as you exhale.  Use your three minutes to breathe in positive, relaxing energy, and breathe out negative stress. 
Mindful Eating

This is a path to power over your food and your stress.  Instead of just jumping in and trying to finish your meal before you’ve even started, take a moment.  Become aware of the food before you.  Notice the shape, color and texture of it.  Become attuned to your body, the way you salivate, the way you anticipate enjoying it.  Notice the taste, the texture, and the different sensations you feel when you eat.  Take the time to look around and become aware of the service around you.  Notice the place setting, the staff and the d├ęcor.  Appreciate and enjoy what you have before you rush back into your day.

Don’t Lose Yourself
During the Holidays family, friends and work associates want to rejoice and celebrate.  It’s what the holidays are all about.  Just don’t forget that you also need to spend time rejoice and celebrate your own self.  It may sound silly, but don’t feel like you have to do everything at your own expense.  Schedule time out for a quiet cup of tea to reflect on last year and think about the new one.  Make sure you schedule time to connect with yourself so that you don’t lose the most important person in your life to the Holiday shuffle.

Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a fun and joyous time.  If you ever feel they aren’t, STOP, BREATHE, and BALANCE yourself to enjoy the love of the seasons.

More about Jeff: 
He was a fast-track entrepreneur with a portfolio of successful businesses, who had published two books with McGraw Hill, produced documentaries and ran his own public relations agency.  Then it all came to a crashing halt at the end of 2009.  One day, he woke up on a hospital bed recovering from a ten hour surgery that removed six of seven brain tumors on his parietal lobe.

Jeff spent the next four months watching his brain reboot itself.  From dreams filled with unmoving black and white textures, to waking up to vivid flashes of memories, he witnessed his senses, and his body slowly came back on line.  A long time devotee to martial arts and yoga, he spent the next year applying his knowledge of Western science and Eastern philosophies to his recovery and his health.  He learned firsthand how the brain is hard wired just as it had been 40,000 years ago.  More important he learned how it could be reprogrammed through such practices as meditation and mindfulness.

Today he still has one tumor in his head that has miraculously stopped growing since his new beginning.  He now works with individuals and groups with a process of personal evolution he calls the Simple Truth.  His mission is to empower, enable, and ensure others live their own Simple Truth through the lessons he learned.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Supplementing with #VitaminD for the Winter Months #CBias

Being a crazy busy Mom, it's easy to forget to take care of ourselves.  With shorter day and less sunlight we really run the risk of being Vitamin D deficient (especially if you leave for work early in morning and come back after dark!).  And who has time to eat the perfect diet, right?  Being Vitamin D deficient can cause all sorts of health problems from depression, fatigue, lowered immune system to other health issues.

With the way our food is grown these days the foods we eat contain less of the essential nutrients our bodies need.  Taking supplements to bolster the missing nutrients has become just the way it is these days.  I wish I had time to grow my own fruits and vegetables to have then vine ripened, but unfortunately that just isn't practical for most people anymore.

Taking a few minutes to stock up on an extra Vitamin D supplement to help prevent some of the winter blues (among other things) is so important.  I take a regular multi-vitamin, but having the extra boost for the Winter months when I'm not out in the sunshine so much is important.  Benefits of adequate Vitamin D seem to go on forever, Googled it lately?  I was shocked to realize how many different aspects of health Vitamin D really has an effect on.

I'm a creature of habit and when it comes to vitamins I'm even more so.  Buying vitamins from brands I trust is the only way I'll go.  Nature Made vitamins have been around for as long as I can remember and their quality is one I will trust to include in my medicine cabinet.  The prices are always great and you know you are getting a supplement you can trust.

Recently I had the chance to participate in s shop for Vitamin D by Nature Made to stock up and was thrilled because I already have a number of Nature Made supplements in my medicine cabinet.  You can follow along on our trip here on Google+ .

Absorbing some extra sunshine on our way home and noticing the trees are finally changing here in Southern California.
I chose to purchase the gel capsules because I have always found those easier to take.  I have to admit though that I hoped that the pretty blue lid on the bottle might mean that capsules would be a gorgeous blue, but I was wrong.  They are a small little yellow capsule - which in all honest is fine - I just love the pretty blue cap...

Do you change up your vitamin regime for the Winter months? 

Note:  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.   #CBias #VitaminD.  But the opinions expressed above are completely my own and the product is one I already love and purchase the brand frequently.


And the Pinkberry winners are...

If you are one of the below...  Email me asap (OCMomActivities (at) gmail (dot) com)! 

And stay tuned because I'll have another not to be missed giveaway coming up in the next few weeks!  Trust me.  You won't want to miss it!

The first winning comment is:

Amber, November 16, 2011 10:50 PM
Plan with chocolate chips-yum!
The second winning comment is:

The Sherman Four, November 16, 2011 9:31 PM
My fav combo is original with strawberries!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Delicious Mommy Time for the Busy Mommy! #CBias #delmonte

It's safe to say I don't have nearly enough me time.  Between working full time and the other chores of life - I frequently get so busy taking care of everything else that I forget to take a few minutes for me.   I get up early every morning.  Very early.  4:15 am to be exact so that I can get a full work day in before picking the kids up at school.

Recently I took a few moments to take some me time and create a delicious snack using the new Del Monte Peaches with Cinnamon & Brown Sugar.  The snack sized Del Monte fruit cups are a staple in our house because they work as a great addition to the kids lunches.  I frequently use the mandarin cups to add to salads when I'm looking to add pizazz and color.  Honestly I hadn't really thought about going beyond that but jumped at the chance to create something new and fun for me.  The Del Monte with Cinnamon & and Brown Sugar sounded like a fantastic combo.  I went back and forth with warming the fruit cup and drizzling over vanilla bean ice cream or creating a pastry.

Not having much fee time in my schedule I knew I wanted to create something I would love but would also be something I could pack up a scaled down version in a small container and send with the boys to school. 

I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do when I headed to Walmart.  Follow along on the trip and baking with pictures and cooking instructions on the Google+ story here. I'd thought about baking them inside croissants for a yummy fruit pocket, warming and drizzling the peaches over vanilla ice cream.  But I found these fantastic puff pastry shells in the freezer section and knew that was perfect.  I filled the puff pasties once they were done cooking with the Del Monte Peaches with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar and re baked for a couple of minutes to warm the peaches. Add a little whipped topping another dash of cinnamon and I felt like I had channeled the inner pastry chef.

After the kids is when I have my "me" time these days.  I've always loved baking and taking time to create a delicious treat is in itself a treat to me!

Once my treat was done I sat down to catch up on some of my favorite tv shows that I don't get to watch when the kids are up.  And the next day I had several left over to warm up and enjoy after sending one in each of the boys lunches.

What do you do for "me" time?

Note:  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias  #delmonte The opinions and recipe are completely my own, but you're welcome to recreate on your own!  :)


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Candy Cane Peppermint Sugar Scrub - Homemade

It's that time of year... you know, the one where you become overwhelmed by the amount of candy canes that have over taken your life!  Just about everyone I know is looking for ways to cut corners but not feel like they are cutting corners.  Try this delicious (smelling, but don't eat it!) Peppermint Sugar Scrub as a great gift for friends and neighbors.  Be sure to leave yourself a jar for those moments when you decompress and have a little you time this holiday season!

Peppermint Sugar Scrub
  • An empty jar with a lid (or you can use these cute little tins pictured above)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 6 candy canes/peppermint candy (approx ¼ cup), finely crushed into a powder
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 drops peppermint essential oil (optional)

Pour the granulated white sugar and crushed peppermint into the jar. Put the lid on the jar and shake it to mix thoroughly until the ingredients are well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients into sugar mix. Put the lid on the jar and shake it to mix thoroughly until the ingredients are well blended. Label the jar as desired.
Note this post original posted in 2010 here on this site.


Friday, November 18, 2011

What is behind that door?

When the boys and I got home from Disneyland I found this sign on the closet door.  Apparently my husband started some shopping.  He seems to think this will work but I on the other hand am very unsure about this.  I waited all day for the boys to get home from school to see their reaction.


Mint Cookie Filled Parmadillo Cake - Birthday Fun!

I've started a new tradition of making fondant cakes for the kids birthdays.  Each time I try something new and try to kick it up a notch. 

Life has been absolutely crazy around here with both my husband and I working full time and trying to manage a calm household in the middle of moving, new school and everything else.  Creating an amazing cake was one thing I was determined to not let slip.  I started planning well over a month before his birthday and his request was clear - he wanted a Parmadillo Cake.  It's a character from Viva Pinata in case you weren't familiar.

My trademark filling has become the crumbled mint oreo mixed with vanilla frosting.  Add some purple fondant and a little free hand frosting decoration and there you go!  One custom birthday cake. 

I'm definitely not a professional, but the kids don't care and they LOVE being able to come up with their own cake designs.  Now if I could just find a cake to make to crumble up some of that Halloween candy we have laying around...


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Are we doing a dis-service in our parenting?

As I sat there listening to my oldest sons fear about making a mistake, I realized that we are doing our children a dis-service. 

With all of the touchy feely parenting and teaching going on these days I believe a critical component of growing up is being glossed over and lost for this generation.  Plain and simple - they don't know how to lose.  Instead of the old school A, B, C, D and F, our children get a numeric "fluffy" grade.  Instead of 1st place, 2nd place and 3rd place there is a trophy for all, frequently without scores at games being kept.

I understood and appreciated this for awhile, but now as my kids have gotten older it has become painfully apparent that they are so afraid of losing that they are anxiety messes at times.  I would call myself the ultimate mother bear, so protecting my children comes number one to me, so it isn't easy to say I want to see my children not succeed at something, but I see that it is an important trade off to help them build crucial character for being successful adults.

Children these days don't know what it is like to "lose" because they don't have the experiences of losing.  But what I feel is far more important about losing it not that - losing, it's the ability and experience in picking yourself back up and trying again with a spirit of there is always another chance.

It broke my heart when I realized this.  It's so important that kids have the chance to learn about failure in a safe nurturing environment so that when the time comes (because inevitably everyone will fail at something) they have the self confidence to pick themselves back up and try again without being completely paralyzed by the failure.

Listen to every billionaire out there and they will tell you that in the real world you will have doors slammed in your face and you will make mistakes.  It's not the mistake that defines success, it's the determination to get back up and try again that will determine the success.

With our children growing up in economic times like this we need them to have a persistence and keep trying attitude that will ensure they become successful.  Another word for it might just be entrepreneurial spirit...

Do you have any parenting insights you'd like to share?  We are all on this journey together, I'd love to hear them and share them if you'd like to include them in a guest post!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Who ya gonna call? - Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday... Who ya gonna call?

It was a Ghostbuster Halloween around our house this year!  These costumes got more comments and more requests to take pictures than I have ever seen.  The boys loved wearing them to all of the different Halloween Festivities we attended because they just plain loved their costumes too!  :)


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All Natural First Aid Remedy

I'm always on the lookout for more natural remedies - especially first aid remedies.  Recently I received a sample of Omyst to try out and almost as if on cue I received a nasty cut on my thumb.  I grabbed the Omyst (and my camera to take a picture first of course).  I must admit that it does sting a briefly but it did seem to speed the healing, but the added benefit of being 100% all natural is just what I was looking for in my cabinet.

I've since tried the First Aid spray on cuts and scrapes that both my boys have had and they both admit it stings a bit (I'm sure this is from the alcohol solution) but it is very brief.  Since I warn them ahead of time - they don't freak out and are ok with it because it goes away so fast.

Omyst is loaded with Calendula, yarrow, plantain and wild roses instead of the other synthetics you find in ointments.

For more information about pricing and where you can find Omyst go here.

Note: No compensation was received for this post but the product was received to facilitate the writing of the post.  The injury described above was a painful yet timely coincidence.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cirque du Soleil Iris makes a home in Hollywood

Cirque du Soleil Iris at the Kodak Theater is beyond amazing.  I hadn't seen a Cirque du Soleil show yet (always wanted to, just haven't had the chance yet) and this one far exceeded all expectations I had.  I knew that the show would be a spectacle full of breath taking acrobatics, but there just aren't words to explain how truly awe inspiring this it was. 

Iris was designed just for the Kodak Theater in Hollywood and will never go on tour, so the experience is unique and has multiple nods to it's Hollywood home.  Tickets range in price from $43 up and I can assure you that for this Cirque du Soleil the higher up seats are just as good as ones low down because the show makes full use of the height of the theater.  This is definitely one to take the kids to for exposure to the performing arts mixed in with a bit of Hollywood dazzle.

There are more special effects than I can even begin to explain, but I was floored to hear that some eight video projectors for the main screen, six for the rear projections and four above the stage for special effects.  This begins to explain how some of the tricks of the eye were created, but leave you dizzy thinking about how many working pieces there are to this masterpiece.

One of the best tips I have heard about the Cirque du Soleil show is to not try to follow the story line too much - just go with it and enjoy the beauty of what the show is.

Below is one of my favorite scenes from the show from the contortionists.

Cirque du Soleil Iris is making a permanent home at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood (year round except for Oscar time of course).  So make your plans and be sure to see it (purchase tickets here or call 1-877-943-IRIS).  Want to feel like a real celebrity?  Pay for the valet parking at Kodak Theater(less than $20) and your sure to feel like you too just picked up a golden statue. 

*Note: No compensation was received for this post - but I was invited to attend the show to facilitate a review.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Miss Piggy Has a Few Things to Say... - Wordless Wednesday!

It's a double Wordless Wednesday!  Well... kind of.  I'll let Miss Piggy do the talking!

Love the Muppets! 

Are you ready for the new Muppets movie coming to theaters November 23rd?


Birthday Fun at Our House - Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday ... Birthday fun at our house 

My kitchen is now known as balloon central. :)


Monday, November 7, 2011

Pinkberry Giveaway and Grand Opening Freebies!

Who doesn't love Pinkberry right?  Well, what's better than Pinkberry?  FREE Pinkberry of course!  To celebrate the opening of the newest location here in Orange County, at the Brea Plaza (go here for location information - located at Imperial Highway and the 57), they are offering FREE small frozen yogurts to guests who go between 5-9pm on November 17th, 2011!  Yum! (note limit of 1 per guest)

And what's adding a cherry on top?  I have TWO $5 giftcards to giveaway to readers of this site! 

Giveaway will end Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 12 midnight pacific time. A winner will be drawn using and I reserve the right to draw another winner if I am not able to get mailing address information in a timely manner. Giveaway is only open to residents of the contiguous US. Please ensure I have a way to contact you to notify you if you have won
Here's how to win:

Mandatory first entry:
Tell us in a comment your favorite PinkBerry Combo (this entry is allowed once per day)

Additional Entries:
 ->Bonus 5 entries! Become a fan of my new site on Facebook

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