Monday, January 31, 2011

Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

I grew up in the Bay Area and loved it.  I've forgotten over the years just how unique that experience really was.  I take for granted the amazing sights that were the backdrop of daily life.  A couple of weeks ago I took the boys on a road trip (in the new car!) to visit for my best friends' wedding reception.  Over the next few days I'll post about some of the fun sightseeing we crammed in to a very short visit.  The boys were beyond excited about all the adventures San Francisco has to offer and I quickly realized that we'll need to take another trip up there shortly to do some more.

On our way home, we took a detour for a quick scenic photo opportunity- The Palace of Fine Arts.  I'd been there many many times over the years and can't wait to take the boys back to visit the Exploratorium when I have more time.  The Exploratorium is on the same grounds as the Palace of Fine Arts and if you've never heard of it, you are missing out.  It is a learning museum like no other.  You feel like you've walked right in to a science lab.  It's an amazing tactile and hands on learning experience for kids (and adults!).

As we came around the corner and the kids saw the Palace of Fine Arts for the first time their faces lit up.  They immediately recognized it from the smaller scale one at California Adventure (that cracked me up).  It's just unlike most buildings and even my boys were giddy with excitement to see it in person.  My oldest has become quite the photographer (with his handy Nintendo DSi camera).  The picture above is actually the picture he took.

 What's your favorite adventure in the San Francisco Bay Area?

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Magic, The Memories and You! premiers at Disneyland

Did you see it?  

Tonight Disneyland started using the Small World as a canvas for 'The Magic, The Memories and You!'

Every night Small World will be full of the colorful display of photos, videos, animation and music.  There are thousands of photos and will include 500photos from guests at the park the very same day.  The presentation begins at sundown. 

As we know Disneyland always adds a bit of magic to everything, so of course you can expect magical effects and a small fireworks display. 

Have you seen it yet?  What did you think?

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

What will you gain when you lose?

My life is hectic.  Okay... so that might actually be an understatement!

My days start very, very early (before the sun comes up).  It's just one of those things I do as I struggle to find that work/life balance.  This year I chose to make promises to myself instead of full blown resolutions.  I just knew that with my life being as crazy as it is, that I needed to focus on lots of subtle little changes that when put together would equal bigger impacts on my life.  For example, I made the commitment to myself to get at least three yoga sessions in each week.  If I can get more in, great!  If not, I know three is attainable.  By sneaking in those yoga sessions, I'm multi-tasking again and getting more exercise and relaxation in addition to a little me time.

Another goal I made for myself was to find more simple, easy and nutritious snacks.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I get up so dang early every day, I find I'm not really hungry, but I know I need to eat.  But unfortunately I just don't have a lot of time, so I tend to grab a protein bar or other breakfast bar.  Finding a breakfast bar I can actually eat (you know, with that pesky oat allergy) has proven to be really tough.  It's disheartening to see how most of the breakfast bars out there are made with at least a little bit of oats.  One of the only breakfast bars I have found that doesn't have oats are the Special K bars.  With Raspberry Cheesecake, Blueberry, Strawberry and Chocolate flavorings you know you can't go wrong.  I find the protein shakes are also an easy and delicious grab on my way out the door.

Yes, I stepped on the scale the other day at the Special K event at The Grove in Los Angeles and my word was "presence" which I thought went well with my theme for the year.  I added in the word "balance" because I'm aiming to balance my life better!

Take a few minutes and pop over to the

So...What will you gain when you lose?

*Note: this is part of a compensated campaign.  But 100% of the opinions expressed in this post are mine and I loved the products I wrote about long before I ever worked with Special K for this campaign.
Special K challenge website (you can also find them on Facebook here) then check out some of the easy and supper yummy recipes, 2 week challenge plan and great social community to support you in your health goals.  There is even a fun app you can download!

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Found a New Delicious Menu Item at Disneyland!

You may or may not have noticed the Village Haus restaurant at Disneyland (in Fantasyland) was closed for renovations.  We happened to pop in last Wednesday to eat dinner on the re-opening day and check out this delicious flat bread pizza I ordered!  It was beyond delicious!  I think this is my new favorite dish at Disneyland!  (and HUGE kudos to the supervisor for checking the ingredient list for me to be sure there wasn't the dreaded oat fiber I'm allergic to in the pita dough!)

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Have you made resolutions? Join us tomorrow!

I didn't make any official New Year's resolutions this year.  I instead made promises to myself.  My big promise was to find more ways to take care of myself, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  With how crazy my life has been lately I didn't want to set lofty goals I wasn't sure if I could meet.  I know that by taking working on balancing the insanity that I call my daily schedule is tough.  One of the best steps all of us can probably take is to work on eating a better breakfast each day.  I for one tend to grab whatever is handy instead of planning out my breakfasts ahead of time.  I know that is so not good.  A good (and nutritious) breakfast sets the bar for the rest of the day.  

Special K is working hard to make it easy for us all to do just that.  To start the day out right.  If you are in the LA area tomorrow - January 18th (The Grove to be exact) at 2pm, come join us and be inspired to take those little steps with me to increasing health and happiness.  If you're not in the LA area, but are still want to be involved, you can follow us on Twitter using the hashtag of #SpecialKResolution
 
Note:  This is part of a compensated campaign, but as I'm sure you know, I'd never be involved in something I wasn't passionate about.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Sesame Street at the Discovery Cube and GIVEAWAY

Elmo is back!  

Sesame Street Presents: The Body Exhibit is returning to the Discovery Science Center January 29th to May 1st, 2011.  If you didn't have the chance to check it out last year, be sure to stop by and explore the Body exhibit where you and your child can learn about activities that promote a healthy lifestyle.
1. How You Work – Whether you are exercising, playing, dancing or even sleeping, your body is always hard at work. In “How You Work,” kids can learn how the heart and different muscles work as they pump, row or run in “Rosita’s Locomotion” and boogie along with Grover in “Grover’s Dance Party,” a groovy disco.

2. Your Insides – “Your Insides” is an exploration of what goes on inside the body.
Activities include the “Count’s Organ Organ,” which musically teaches kids about their internal organs’ locations and functions; “Digestion with Oscar,” a display that shows kids what happens to food when they eat it; and “Oscar’s Sneeze Machine,” where children pull a lever to irritate a big nose that actually sneezes on them!


3. Your Outsides – Children learn to identify different body parts, learn what they do, and explore the many ways they can put them to use. Exhibits include “Your Wonderful
Hands,” featuring puzzles, sign language games, shadow puppets and more; “Your Legs and Feet,” an interactive exhibit that shows what happens when you put your legs in motion; and “Use Your Head”, a play-along question and answer game show about the parts of the head.


4. Staying Healthy – Learn how eating healthy foods, staying clean, and getting plenty of physical activity as well as sleep can help the body stay healthy. Ernie and Rubber Ducky get kids started in “Rub-A-Dub Tub,” a silly game that shows them just how much fun staying clean can be. Then it’s on to “Mr. Hooper’s Store,” where children scan groceries and learn specific messages about how different healthy meals are good for their bodies, and “Baby Bear’s Mini Mart,” a toddler-sized activity area where children can stock up on a variety of healthy foods.
Step into Elmo’s colorful world where Dorothy the goldfish, Mr. Noodle and the red, lovable Muppet live, learn and play. Elmo’s crayon-scribbled world contains kid-sized furniture and colorful manipulative games. The video screen window is where Elmo and Mr. Noodle are thinking all about the body and the things it needs to stay healthy like rest, exercise and good food. Photo: Chris Haston, 2005 Sesame Workshop

Best part?  Two lucky of my lucky readers will win VIP passes to attend Elmo's Birthday party on February 3rd!  It is a private event and will feature Elmo's birthday cake from Sensitive Sweets (gluten-free, soy-free and allergy free).  The event will be from 6-8pm at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana.  Ready to enter?

The giveaway will go until January 20th at 11:59pm and is only open to residents of the contiguous U.S.  When leaving comments, be sure I have a way to contact you, I reserve the right to pick another winner if I am not able to contact the winners in a reasonable amount of time.  I will need to get your information before January 21, 2011.  The two winners will be picked using Random.org.

Mandatory first entry: Post a comment below.

  Other ways to enter:
  • Subscribe to email feed or other feed subscription for OCMomActivities.com (or if you already are, just say that in a comment) 
  • Become a Fan of Discovery Science Museum or OCMomActivities on Facebook (say so if you already are)
  • Follow Discovery Cube or OCMomActivities on Twitter (1 extra entry each)
  • Mention/link this giveaway in a blog post or tweet about it (1 extra entry each allowed once per day until the giveaway ends) 
  • Go comment on another post on OCMomActivities.com then come back and comment on this one saying you did it (this is an unlimited number of extra entries as long as you do the extra commenting!) 

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Friday, January 7, 2011

I think I failed my kids...

I've failed my kids.  I had no idea it had gotten this out of control. 

It's official, they are car snobs.  I didn't even realize it until yesterday. 

We bought a new car last week and yesterday we had to take it to the dealership to add something aftermarket.  They gave us a rental car for the couple of days it would be in the shop.  The rental car is economy, very economy.  The boys got in to the car and immediately they were scrambling trying to figure out how to open the windows. 

Next up was their inability to understand a car without power door locks.  I actually had to show my kids how to lock the doors. 

But the best part of the day was when my oldest asked the car rental agent if the car was equipped with a back-up camera.  No kidding, the guy had stunned look on his face as he said, " Um... No..."

I found myself explaining to the boys for the rest of the ride home how cars "used" to be.

I have to hand it to my boys, after the initial shock (to put it gently) wore off, they have been great.  They are seeing the positives in the rental car and counting the minutes until we get our car back.

I have a sneaking suspicion they will be very happy to get our new car back and it will be awhile before they take little luxuries for granted again.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Disney Wedding - Wordless Wednesday

One of my best friends recently got married at the Disneyland hotel (yes, they are Disney nuts).  I got brave and decided to make not just my first fondant cake, but my first red velvet cake for the intimate event.  Above is my first creation that I still can't believe I did!  Amazing what gorgeous red roses add to a cake.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Delicious Slow Cooker Lasagna

I'm not the best cook in the world, but I have begun to accumulate a few delicious family friendly meals.  For Christmas I got a new large slow cooker as a present (I know, the joys of being a Mom... these things are actually exciting!) that has inspired me to kick things up a notch.


Working full time presents a HUGE challenge when it comes to dinners.  My job allows me to be with my kids in the afternoons (don't ask what time I get up every morning... you don't want to know), but by the time dinner rolls around I'm exhausted!  The slow cooker has been the answer for me, because it allows me to get everything assembled the night before and get it started at the crack of dawn.  Yes, I'm up well before sunrise on weekdays.

As promised... here is my recent super yummy creation:

Slow Cooker Lasagna


Ingredients:
(all these are approximate and can be increased or decreased to personal preference)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • Several cloves of crushed garlic (depending on your garlic preference)
  • 1 large can of tomato sauce (29 ounces)
  • 1 can of tomato paste (12 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 12 ounces of Ricotta Cheese
  • 16 ounces of shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package of regular lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup water
Directions:
Cook the ground beef, onion and garlic until the meat is brown (this would also be a great place to add chopped carrots, peppers, spinach or other veggie you would want to "hide" in the meal).  Mix in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil and oregano.

In a separate bowl, mix together the Ricotta cheese, (approximately) 12 ounces of Mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

Spread a layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Add two layers of the noodles (un-cooked).  I broke the noodles up in to smaller pieces to allow for easier serving later.  Spread another thin layer of the sauce over the top of the noodles (this gives them the moisture to cook in).  Then spread a layer of the Ricotta mixture.  Then sauce mixture.  Then noodles.  Then sauce. Then Ricotta.  Repeat until you have used up the sauce and the Ricotta.  Be sure not to fill it more than 3/4 of the way to the top (to allow for the expansion of the noodles).  Use a layer of noodles as the top and carefully add the cup of water on the top (this gives the noodles enough liquid to cook).  Cook for approximately 6 hours on low heat.  About 1 hour before it is done, sprinkle the rest of the cheeses, a dash of the Oregano and basil.

This was a HUGE hit in our house and the above picture was actually from earlier tonight!

*Note: This also makes as a great main dish for your kids school lunch the next day, just put a small portion in a reusable container!

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