Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Amazing Sushi in Newport Beach - Wordless Wednesday

Two of the amazing and extraordinary dishes from Sam & Harry's AMAZING sushi bar (inside the Newport Beach Marriott).  I can promise you these dishes tasted even more amazing than they looked!


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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bubblefest is here!

It's here!  Have you made you plans to attend Bubblefest XV at the Discovery Science Museum in Santa Ana?  It's here April 2- 24, 2011.  Records will be set, bubble shows will happen daily and unique bubble experiences will be everywhere.  Learn about the tension, elasticity, air pressure, geometry of a bubble.  Get you very own picture in a bubble (extra charge for this).

There will be daily bubble shows performed by the Yang Family at 11 am, 12:30 pm, 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm for a small additional fee.

Don't forget to take a ride in your very own bubble in the water pool!

This is surely a Bubblefest not to miss!  For more information you can go here.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Family Video Game Night- Lego Star Wars III Clone Wars

During the week, it's crazy around our house.  By the time Friday arrives, we are all exhausted and ready family time.  I've talked about it before, but I can't emphasize enough how much we treasure our family video game nights.  We make popcorn, frequently get take out dinners and just relax playing a video game all as a family. 

Family Video Game night began in our house when my oldest was sick with bronchitis.  Keeping him mellow and on the couch was required until he improved.  He was uncomfortable and struggling to breathe (I was also because I was diagnosed with bronchitis a few days after him).  We both have asthma, so all we could do for almost a week was find things to occupy us.  It was great because he learned team work and how to strategize his way through a situation.

You'll frequently find us all camped out playing, switching back and forth for the levels that we are each best at.  My husband is great at the flying ship levels and I do well at the strategy levels.  The kids are great at playing tandem with both of us. 

One of our all time favorites is the series of Lego video games.  The countdown clock was on at at our house until the most recent release of Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars III was available in stores.  We all knew it wouldn't disappoint and it is safe to say that we LOVED the game.   The graphics are amazing and the game is full of our family favorites (since we are all huge Star Wars fans).  Pass all the levels on the good side?  Then you move on to the dark side.  Pass all those?  Then you move on to the bounty hunter levels.  This game has so many different levels I seriously don't know when we will ever truly finish, which is great!  It's also fantastic for all ages because it is just Lego!

I particularly loved the "hidden" series of locations to find the new levels. This was unique to this game (we've played all the Lego adventure games...).

What games do you play for family video game night?  What's your favorite part?

Playing also?  Here are some of our favorite cheats codes to assist you along in the game:

Invincibility J46P7A

Character Studs 2D5GNM

Character Studs QD2C31

Stud Magnet 6MZ5CH

Stud Multiplier X10 N1CKR1

Score X2 YZPHUV

Score X4 43T5E5

Score X6 SEBHGR

Score X8 BYFSAQ

Score X10 N1CKR1

Minikit Detector CSD5NA

Perfect Deflect 3F5L56

Dual Wield C4ES4R

Dark Side X1V4N2

Fast Build GCHP7S

Super Saber Cut BS828K

Super Speeders B1D3W3

Regenerate Hearts 2D7JNS

Glow In The Dark 4GT3VQ

*Note: I wasn't compensated at all for this post.  This is purely a game we love and I wanted to post about it.  :)

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Nope, it's not edible! Check out this diaper cake - great for baby showers!

Over the years, I've lost count of how many baby showers I've gone too.  For some reason, baby clothes feel boring as gifts.  I'm always on the look-out for the really cool functional gift that is a presentation on its own.  I think I've found it!  What does every new mom need?  You guessed it... DIAPERS.  But nothing is more boring than wrapping up or presenting a mom to be with a box of diapers.  When I realized how easy making a diaper cake was, I knew that would be my standard gift for all baby showers from now on.  Not only is it functional (the mom can rip in to it when she needs diapers), but it is also a great decoration for a baby shower.  It's extremely portable and adds a bit of wow factor to any baby shower. Best part is it is less than $20 to make, so you can still buy a few other fun things as gifts to accompany it. 

It's super easy and here's how:

Make a bed of diapers, surrounding a round cardboard cutout.  This will be your cake base.  Use hot glue liberally.  Fold the open ends of the diaper inwards to neaten the top and backs.  Repeat about 100 times (no kidding, I used exactly 100 size one diapers in the cake you see pictured.  I could have used newborn size, but the fact that my babies were both over 9 pounds each... I like to buy the larger size in case the mom to be has a big baby also!). 

Start forming the folded diapers in a ring on the base, put the newly folded edges to the outside of the cake.  Once you start accumulating a number of them, take a string and losely tie it around the cake, this is just to help keep them together and maintain the shape until you add the decorative ribbon.  I used approximately 70 diapers on the bottom tier and 30 on the top tier. 

Once they were packed tight, I balled up a few diapers to go in the center.  Tied the riboon around the tiers, securing with a few dabs of hot glue.  Easy as that!

What are some of your favorite decorations or gifts for baby showers?

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shamrock Shakes!




It's a March tradition in our house to get the Shamrock shakes. After I picked up the boys from school, we headed straight to our closest McDonald's to grab them. After several minutes of shear panic on the part of the employees, they fixed the glitch and were able to serve the massive crowd of green that had arrived for Shamrock shakes.

Love it.

Do you have any St. Patrick's Day traditions?

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gift Idea for a Kid Who Loves Space

So what on Earth do you get a kid who is a major space fan for his birthday?  A meteorite of course!  A few weeks ago while we were at a museum, I spotted a number or meteorites for sale.  They each cost $9.99 and I knew it would be the perfect gift for my son.  It's a unique gift and one that any kid who is enthralled with space things will enjoy.

I plan on picking up a couple more next time to have on hand as gifts for other kids I know who would love their own space rock! 

What other neat gifts have you come across for kids that are beyond the normal Toys 'r Us selection?

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Free Spa Event in OC? Absolutely!

I've raved about the Dermalogica MicroZone treatments before, but here is your chance to experience one for yourself... and the best part?  It is free!  Several local Orange County Spas will be hosting the events combined with Dermalogica and Kiva (you know, the one named as one of Oprah's Favorite Things..) as a fundraiser for FITE- Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship.

Guests will receive the fabulous MicroZone treatments as part of the "Give A Hand Up" campaign and deluxe samples.

No RSVP is required and the locations are:
Nirvana By Tristen Salon
431 N. Tustin Avenue, Suite D
Santa Ana, CA
Thursday, March 10th from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Second Street Beauty
12410-F Seal Beach Blvd.
Seal Beach, CA
Tuesday, March 15th from 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Want to learn more?  Head on over here to learn about the amazing programs and campaigns FITE is involved in.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Keeping Track of Kids at Birthday Parties

Birthday parties can be hectic at best, but when you combine it with a busy venue, it can be very nerve wrecking as the party hosts to keep track of all the kids and be sure they are all in the right place.  In past years, we've always opted to use party locations where the kids aren't being mixed in with other parties.  Eventhough my boys are starting to get older, I still rarely drop-off the kids at a party and come back at the end, unless I know the parents well.  This is just because I know how hard it can be to keep track of so many kids running around who you may or may not know very well.

So a trick I've come up with when you are at a party place that mixes kids around, its to buy the glow in the dark bracelets (we used these for our recent laser tag birthday party) or some other piece that identifies t-them.  I've seen some parents use t-shirts (which can be pricier) to pins.  I loved using the glow in the dark bracelets for laser tag because it was like a party favor and identifying piece at the same time.  The kids also loved it because while playing laser tag, they were able to figure out it was one of their friends even in the dark.

The venue we had our party at made me nervous because of the large number of walk-ins they allow to play alongside the kids and that they don't monitor the doors to be sure kids can't head out the doors without a parent.  In this case, the solution was easy - the glow in the dark bracelets were purchased for 49 cents each at Michael's craft store.  I was able to keep my eye on the door and be sure none of the kids from our party were even near the door, eventhough I wasn't too familiar with all of my son's friends.

What tricks have you used in the past to easily identify the kids from your party? 

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Planet Earth Cake for a Kids Birthday

After seeing how my previous two fondant cakes turned out, my oldest was requesting that I make his birthday cake.  I had never actually made one of the kids birthday cakes, but I had ordered plain cakes a few times and decorated them because I wasn't able to find one with a theme or look I was happy with. 

I had a vision in my mind for his cake this year and was nervous as to how it would turn out.  He is a HUGE space fan (and has been for a number of years).  He is determined to be an astronaut, even to the point of planning out where he wants to go to college based on it (I know... he's only 9).  He's a walking encyclopedia of space facts and I'm sure that has something to do with his love of reading space encyclopedias over the last few years.  He has quite the opinion as to whether Pluto is still a planet or not and his favorite phrase is "A planet is a planet, no matter how small".

Most of the parents commented to me that when they asked their kids what they should get as a present, they immediately said "anything space" because he wants to be an astronaut.  I guess he's as vocal about his passion with his friends as he is at home!

The above picture is the cake I made and I am thrilled beyond belief with how it turned out. It's a white vanilla cake (with blue food coloring to make it icy blue in color), mint oreo cookie filling and covered in fondant.  I sprayed the fondant with blue food coloring spray.  Then I printed out a template of the continents and placed on the cake.  I outlined the continents with green sparkle food gel and filled them in once I removed the templates.  I free handed Hawaii on there.  Super easy and it came out amazing.  I'm so thrilled.  The 12 inch round cake was plenty for the 14 kids at the party and left us with a few very hefty sized pieces left over.  The kids at the party absolutely LOVED the cake and the birthday boy was beyond thrilled with his cake.

I think I'm begining to get the hang of this fondant cake thing! 

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Free Admission to Aquarium of the Pacific This Saturday - Fabulous Yet Frugal Friday

Looking for a fun & FREE way to experience the Aquarium of the Pacific tomorrow?  Be one of the first 100 people to spot the Tillamook Baby Loaf Bus in front of the Aquarium of the Pacific tomorrow morning and check-in (starting at 9:00 am).  You must be wearing an Orange shirt and you will get one free entry per person.  Tillamook Cheese is celebrating its Loaf Love Tour which includes sponsoring the Grilled Cheese Festival Invitational on April 23rd in Los Angeles. 

The Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802 and their website is here.

You can get more information about other Tillamook Events by becoming a Fan here or following them on Twitter here.

So will you be grabbing an Orange Shirt and heading down to the Aquarium of the Pacific tomorrow?

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Plants vs. Zombies - The Family Video Game Night Feature This Week

Family video game night is a big deal around our house.  We make popcorn and milk shakes.  A tremendous amount of planning goes in to finding a game that the entire family wants to watch or participate in.  Okay, so the kids do most of the planning, but my husband and I retain veto power.  Angry Birds, Lego Star Wars and My Sims Kingdom have recently been featured in our family video game nights.  

A couple weeks ago my youngest started lobbying for us to download Plants vs. Zombies to our iPhones so he could play.  One of his friends at school had told him about the game.  So, when I was approached to do a review of the game for the PS3, I honestly thought, I'd sit and watch the kids play a bit, then write a review about how much THEY loved the game.  Um... I couldn't have been more wrong.  Yes, the kids LOVE the game, but after we downloaded the game from the Sony Playstation online store, it was my husband that refused to give up the controller.  I think the game was being played by someone in the house for 4 hours straight as soon as we downloaded it (everyone was taking turns).  Talk about addictive!  It's right on par with Angry Birds and some of the other games that are hugely popular.

One of the things that cracks me up the most is the "notes" that are left by the zombies with such phrases as "Please leave your doors unlocked and yard unguarded".   The notes really crack me up.  It's pretty lighthearted so you don't have to worry about it being inappropriate for younger kids as they simply won't get the meaning of Zombies in this colorful cartoonish game.

What I love about this game is it forces you to build strategy, quick thinking skills and is just plain fun for the family to do together.  I should also point out that within two weeks of release on the Playstation Network, this game was already a top new release with an average rating of 4.86 stars out of 5.  Note it currently costs $14.99 on the Playstation Network (but is still well below the cost of most video games).  I love how you can download the game instantly and don't have to head out to a store to buy it!

*Note:  I was given a free review copy of the game to facilitate this post, but I'm sure we will be purchasing this game for the iPhones on our own shortly, if my husband hasn't already that is... So it is safe to say that hasn't impacted my opinions in the above post!  My husband is actually playing the game as I write this...

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A dubious honor at Disneyland Resort ...




Only one ride at the Disneyland Resort deserves this dubious honor. Who knows which ride I snapped this picture on?

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quick Easy and Gorgeous Home Table Top Fountains

I don't know about you, but my life has been crazy and hectic lately.  I'm constantly looking for ways to bring back more Zen in to my life.  

When I was a kid, I would make table top (and one time even a three tiered outdoor water pond) with my Mom.  I had forgotten how easy it really was!  I'd been searching high and low for a neat water fountain to put on my desk, since I love the sound of running water.  After the holidays I haven't been able to find one that was a reasonable cost, I'd searched everywhere and I just didn't have the patience to order one online because I didn't want to spend the money on one that looked great in the picture, but either didn't sound great or just looked cheap when it arrived.  In the back of my mind, I kept thinking I'd make one again as a last resort.  I don't know why I pushed it to "last resort" status because I am SO thrilled with the one I made.  It's been a good 15+ years since I made one and I can honestly say this one is my favorite of all of the ones I have ever made.  

Make your own modifications, for how you want it to work.  Here's how I did the above pictured one to get you started... 
  1. Purchase a basic water pump at Home Depot or other home store.  I bought the smallest pump I could find, which cost just under $20.  
  2. Buy a foot of clear plastic tubing that will connect to the pump and take the water to wherever you want it to come out of (note most pumps connect to 1/2 to 3/4 inch tubes).  The tubes cost about $.40/foot - so they are very inexpensive). 
  3. Next up is you bowl or whatever you want to use as a base.  Take your time on this one and be sure you love it.  Find one that is deep enough to cover the pump and be sure it is water tight.  There are sealers you can use for terracotta, but I wouldn't recommend going down that route on your first fountain.  For a table top fountain, I would recommend a bowl/dish about 1 foot in diameter to give yourself plenty of space to work in and prevent splash over.  I found the above dish on sale at True Value Hardware and it was $11.  But I'd start at places like Home Goods or other discounters to find a great deal and a unique piece.  
  4. Next up is the piece that makes or breaks your fountain, and that is how the water fountain turns in to a fountain.  I found the above ceramic shell also at True Value (it was also on sale for $5) and realized it would be perfect to feed the water in to, then it would come out the bottom on to the base making a fantastic sound of lots of trickling water.  You can get fancier with this, but this is an easy way to get the basics started then get more complicated from there.  
  5. For the base, I literally just filled the dish with large shells we had collected.  You want to be sure you fill it with larger objects, to allow the water to reach the pump and not clog it.  I thought about using glass rocks or stones as a base before I realized I had plenty of shells.

Assemble everything, turn the fountain on and you are done!  It was easy and took a matter of minutes to assemble.  And yes, the picture above is the one I made, not one I purchased!  (The above fountain is about 1 foot in diameter.)

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