Thursday, June 28, 2012

You're not the only one Paula Deen, I've lost 30 pounds too!

Photo Courtesy of
I really don't understand why Paula Deen is big news with her recent weight loss.  Ok, I get it on one level, but maybe that fact that I just don't get star-struck is what leaves me baffled.  There are many people all over the earth who lose 30 pounds in six months and it doesn't make big news.  Paula Deen has access to all the fancy personal trainers, nutritionists and home chef's a person could need.  I'd be concerned if she couldn't lose that weight with all the help at her disposal!

You see, I've lost 30 pounds in the last six months too.  Really!  Was it that hard?  No, not really.  I didn't work with a trainer or a nutritionist or a personal chef.  But what I can tell you is it took dedication and lots of it.  With that dedication came the need to be honest with myself.  I had to really look at what in my everyday life had caused me to put on extra weight.  I couldn't put my head in the sand, just work out occasionally and say "Oh I'm trying to lose weight, see?" 

I calorie counted.  I made a strict goal of the calories I would allow myself each day that would still be healthy (I'm not one that could ever be an anorexic - I love food way too much!).  It quickly became apparent that my daily diet had to be protein heavy (with a little guidance from a brilliant friend who recently went through gastric bypass), because the carbs tasted great, but I would find myself getting hungry much faster than if my meals were protein heavy.  The carbs just ripped through my calorie allotment for the day anyway!  So I cut WAY down on carbs (and made a mental promise to myself to factor in my non-fat milk mocha as my reward for working my tail off - even if that meant getting extra cardio in each day!).

So, off I went - Calorie counting working out like a fiend at the gym.  Cardio, weight training, you name it -  I was filling up about an hour and a half a day 5 days a week at the gym.  I loved that time, just me and my iPod.  It was tiring and definitely hard work, but I saw the pounds peeling away, so it was easy to keep it up. 

I learned a lot about myself on this journey, the most important being how goal oriented I am.  Tell me where the light is at the end of the tunnel and I'll get there.  Move the light at the end of the tunnel when we were almost there and I might just bite your head off.  Give me a vague answer as to where that light is and I won't get there, I'll give up.  I'm so glad I've learned these things about myself because they factor in to all aspects of my life.  It explains why I am able to power through things.  I know the goal, dig my heels in and just get there.

Now it's Summer vacation and the kids are home everyday, so I can't spend the time at the gym I had been doing.  I'm totally ok with that because I was going at a pretty tough pace and the mental break is good.  I'm working hard at maintaining the weight loss, building more muscle (love muscle building Yoga videos!) and watching what I eat for now.  Okay, I might be reveling a bit in what I've already accomplished and psych'ing myself up for round two in the fall because I want to lose another 20-30 before I'm happy.

Now at this point you're probably wondering if the picture at the top of this post are me.  No, sigh, not yet.  It's Jen from  I adore her and look to her for lots of fitness advice.  She's a fantastic resource for how to get fit (I'm working on convincing her to write a guest post with recommendations for at home workouts for busy moms that can't get to the gym).  She's a mom to three very young kids and juggles a full time job in addition to being fabulously in shape.

What is your weight struggle or success story?  I'd love to hear about it!  Help me convince Jen we need her home exercise routine help!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Go Fly A Kite - Summer Bucket List

We've been working hard at checking boxes on our Kids Summer Bucket List.  This last week we tackled flying a kite!

What things do you have on your Summer Bucket List?  I'd love to share some of them here on the site!  Email me OCMomActivities (at) gmail (dot) com


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Respect goes both ways people.

It's a simple code really.  Respect me and you'll get all the world in respect back.  Disrespect me and I'm sorry, who are you again?

It's the code I live my life by, "Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you".  That has echoed in my head for as long as I can remember.  I'm a very generous and giving person until I feel someone disrepects me so deeply I lose respect for them.  You don't need to be perfect - just respectful.

As I've mentioned we moved a few months ago (ok, almost a year now, where the heck did the time go???) and we are usually pretty healthy people, so up until now we haven't had an urgent need to establish new doctors, etc.  I had some routine things I needed to take care of so I turned to our health insurance database to locate a new doctor becuase I didn't have anyone around who had a great recommendation.  Yes, I know, first mistake.

The receptionist was pleasant and I was able to get an appointment a week later.  I should have seen this red flag, most good doctors can't get new patients in for at least 2 weeks.  But we are PPO and this provider was in network, so I thought it couldn't be that bad.

I arrived early for my appointment (I have this annoying genetic defect to being on time or early - LOL).  The office was busy but again the receptionish was friendly, so I too was my normal overly nice self. 

As I sat down to wait for my appointment I saw the sign that should have had me running and screaming - "Turn off all cell phones".  I being the optimistic one promptly turned off the ringer on my phone and proceeded to skim through emails, Facebook, Twitter and such as I waited to be called.  20 minutes went by.  30 minutes.  40 minutes.  50 minutes.  No joke.  I would have gone crazy without my smatphone to keep me entertained and would have been far more annoyed and vocal about the delay.

Over an hour went by and now I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough time to get through the appointment and back to pick up my kids from school.  This was absurd.  The office really doesn't value people's time.

Finally the office tech called my name for me to come back.  As I walked through the door, she said "You can put that phone away".  I was stunned.  What did she say?  I must have misunderstood.  I'm not a child.  I'm a busy adult who is PAYING to be here.  My phone is on silent and I'm not chatting on it, simply responding to texts, emails, etc. when I have down time.  My normal routine is to put the phone away when I go back to the rooms, but this time I was already annoyed so I defiantly decided I was going to keep it out.

As I sat down in the room, she pointed to yet another sign on the wall saying "Turn off all cell phones".  Now, I understand when you are in a hospital with sensitive equipment, but in a family practitioners office?  Really?

I told her that I had been waiting for over an hour past my appointment time in the waiting room and that I was simply being productive about my time because my time is just as valuable.  I left my cell phone on the examination table and gave her "the look" back.  I didn't know how long the doctor would be, so I told her I would keep it out.

Sure enough my blood was boiling, my blood pressure was SKY high.  No mention of the dangerous level it had reached, I'm sure she realized SHE was the reason it was through the roof.

When the doctor came in, I got the same lecture.  I calmly looked at him and said I'm not using it during the examination and given how much time I was made to wait in the waiting room, well I'll do whatever I want to do while I wait as long as it doesn't disturb or disrupt anyone.

So what lesson did I learn?  That if a doctor doesn't respect MY time, you can bet your bottom I won't be back.  NEXT!


Monday, June 25, 2012

The frog that came back!

Sam the frog had been gone for several days.  My son was pretending that his replacement frog was the real frog that had been let loose late late one night after his escape down the hall, down the stairs and through the family room. (go here for post about his adventure)

I was out in the garden checking on my flowers and out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving (normally an ominous sign around here lately...).  Low and behold it was the frog we had let go the other night hopping through the grass.  It was SAM!

I called both boys downstairs and outside to confirm his identity.  My youngest just smiled and went in to catch mode.

To celebrate the return of Sam, we headed down to the pet store and did a major cage upgrade.  I'm a little envious of his new tropical digs, but to have him back in the house is a huge relief.  But the guilt of mistakenly allowing my son's pet to escape and be set free in the backyard is gone.  *Whew*

Note:  No frogs were hurt in the creation of this post.  Sam is a tiny tree frog who we have adopted from the backyard and he is fed crickets and treasured by my son and now has the most plush living area in the house!  He spent a couple of cold nights outside braving the elements, but appears none the worse for the wear...  :)


Thursday, June 21, 2012

When a frog comes hopping in to the family room...

Yesterday was a very long day, wonderful but long. The boys were sleeping in their rooms and I was downstairs decompressing before heading to bed.  I've never been one that can go right to bed after driving home, I have to spend time decompressing or I find myself having many nightmares about falling asleep while driving.  Yeah, not fun.

So I sat there watching my DVR'd episode of the Real Housewives of Orange County and something moving caught my eye on the far side of the family room.  Sure enough it was a frog hopping through the room on its way somewhere. 

I calmly got up and put my empty water glass over it. Ok, I'm lying... I screamed, hurriedly put the empty cup over it and ran up the stairs to wake up my sleeping boys to assist.

Both were barely awake but came down the stairs to assist.  I repeatedly asked if it was one of their frogs that had escaped.  My oldest insisted several times it wasn't.  We have a lot of nature coming through our yard (including many resident frogs), so it wasn't a stretch to think one had snuck in the house while we weren't looking.  The boys helped me get the frog and cup in to the backyard and then I tucked them back in to bed.

I sat awake for a long time being freaked out by the wildlife IN my house.  You see all the snakes I've been finding in my backyard have me a little spooked.  Frogs are ok in my book, but snakes?  Yeah, cringe worthy. 

So this morning when my youngest came down not remembering the craziness the night before, he went running upstairs to check his pet frog Sam.  Sam was not in his habitat.  My heart sank.  My son was sobbing.  We had freed his frog.

I've learned several lessons from this...
1.  Don't trust half awake kids to identify their pet.  Even if you ask them 5 times.
2.  When a small frog comes hopping in to your family room late one night - realize he's a smart little bugger who has come a long way from upstairs in his quest for adventure.
3.  Said frog might have earned his freedom and entry back to the outside world where he came from.
4.  Kids are resilient and there is already another frog in the habitat because apparently our yard is full of easy to catch frogs.
5.  Being a Mom of boys will never be boring.

Note:  The above picture isn't the actual frogs we have, it's an image I took awhile ago at a frog exhibit.  :)


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Radiator Springs Racers - Best Ride Ever. - Semi-Wordless Wednesday

It's Wednesday!  Yay!  Week is half over and I wanted to share a picture of my new favorite ride at California Adventure - Radiator Springs Racers.  Seriously the best ride I have ever been on!  I snapped this picture last week on opening day - actually at 9 am as the park "officially" opened (but many people had been let in earlier in the day).  It was such a great ride that we braved the crowds and went back first thing on Saturday morning and rode it again!

The ride is worth the waits in line and stands up to absolutely all the hype!  Have you tested out the ride yet?  What's your favorite part?  Mine is the race at the end of course!

Have a great rest of the week!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Perfect Iced Mocha - Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop at California Adventure

Lots and lots of changes are happening at the Disneyland Resorts in Anaheim, CA.  I'm a huge Disneyland fan and spend way more time at the parks than I would ever admit!  One of my favorite new additions at California Adventure is the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop (in what used to be the Tortilla Factory in the Pacific Wharf Area).  I'm bummed to see the Tortilla Factory go (we loved getting the free samples fresh from the ovens!), but I have to admit I am IN LOVE with the iced mochas at the Ghirardelli Shop!  Hands down they are  simply amazing and the best I have ever had and I've had a lot of mochas... 

I've already been there three times since it opened for a mocha!  My boys have also tried the S'mores Kids Sundae and the ice cream scoops.  There are countless choices and all super yummy (with a fun flashback to my San Francisco/Bay Area home town roots!).

I also love how the castmembers hand out a complimentary Ghirardelli chocolate square as you enter.

Stay tuned for more fun finds with all the changes at the parks!  Have any you'd like to share?  Email me!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Grilling Made Easy and Delicious!

We moved in to our new house less than a year ago and just finished landscaping our backyard.  We knew it was the perfect time to invite the neighbors over and celebrate with a backyard barbecue!  I have to admit because it was a bit crazy last minute getting everything ready.  We decided to put up a gazebo, get new patio furniture and accessorize before the barbecue.  I felt like I was in the middle of Extreme Backyard Makeover - OCMomActivities style!  We got it all done before the party and are thrilled with the way it turned out, what do you think?  No, that isn't a picture out of a catalog, it's my actual backyard as it looks at sunset.

The scene was set for the BBQ!  I went to Smart & Final the morning of to shop for Cattleman's Finest beef (my neighbor has a secret recipe for smoking the meat) and the other yummy side dishes.  You can follow along with the Google+ story here to see exactly what I purchased.  I absolutely love doing party prep (and other shopping!) at Smart & Final because they sell larger sizes of products for right about what I seem to pay at other grocery stores.

I sat there stunned at the sizes of the meats.  And the prices?  Um, amazing.  I grabbed a Cattleman's Finest Beef Brisket for just under $2.50/pound!  I brought it home and my neighbor added his super top secret meat rub on the beef and smoked it for over 6 hours.   Want the super secret recipe?  Lol, so did I, so I strong armed him aka tricked him in to handing it over.  I have included it at the end of the post!  You're welcome!

With grilled corn on the cob brushed with garlic butter, pork and beans, jalapeno poppers, coleslaw and corn bread pancakes, the meal was ready to go!  My neighbor had the idea to make the corn bread pancakes and stack the meat, coleslaw and drizzle with BBQ sauce.  So delish!

We ended the night with roasting marshmallows on our new fire pit and the kids had such an amazing time while the adults reminisced about doing the same as kids!

The Summer season has officially begun in our house and I can't wait to fill the Summer with more barbecues in our new backyard!

Now as promised here is the...

Super Top Secret Meat Rub Recipe
for smoking the meat (don't tell my neighbor I've posted it on the web!)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup salt
onion powder, garlic powder, touch of chili pepper, touch of cumin, pepper and cayenne all to taste (depending on how spicy you like it). 

Mix then rub on to the meat.  Smoke over charcoal for at least 6 hours.

Super easy - super delish!

The corn bread pancake recipe is right on the back of the corn bread box.  And any coleslaw recipe will do!

Have you ever roasted corn on the bbq?  It's super easy, get corn in the husk and soak in water.  Then add to the grill.  Cook until the husks start to char, then add on your favorite toppings - we used garlic butter.

What are your favorite grilling recipes?

Want more?  Find Smart &Final on Facebook here, Twitter here.

Note:  I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™.   All opinions are completely my own.  #CBias #SocialFabric #SummerGrilling


Sunday, June 17, 2012

What influences what's on your table?

Let's face it - when it comes to the food we eat these days, there are very few people with all the information.  Take a minute and join me today (Monday 11 am Pacific) for an online Twitter party where we can discuss how pop culture does or doesn't affect what we believe about the food we eat.  Here are the details, join us with the hashtag of #FoodD and RSVP if you can (RSVP not necessary!).

What: A Twitter party with the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) to discuss how pop culture affects people’s perception of food. The party will preview a series of panel discussions about the intersection of food and entertainment in society, which will be taking place on USFRA’s Food Dialogues website on June 20 and 21. For insights on this topic, we will be joined by real-life farmer/rancher Chris Chinn and other expert guests who will be participating in the panel discussions.

When: Monday, June 18, 2-3 p.m. ET (11 am-12 Pacific)

Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #FoodD hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Twtvite: Hashtag: #FoodD Prizes: USFRA will give away five total prizes including skillets. Winners will be chosen randomly from among participants who respond correctly to trivia questions.

Hosts: @USFRA, @chrischinn; @theMotherhood Other info: USFRA’s Facebook page  USFRA’s website here, where panel discussions about food and pop culture will take place on June 20 and 21

Note:  This is part of a compensated campaign - but all opinions as always are 100% my own.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Roasting Marshmallows - Summer Bucket List - Wordless Wednesday

Summer Bucket List:  Roast Marshmallows on sticks.  Done!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Get 2 Free Movie Admissions at Safeway Brand Stores for #JuneDairyMovies

Going to the movies is on our Family Summer Bucket list this year.  There are so many great movies out in theaters right now and many more about to get in to theaters!  We love family movie nights, whether they are at home or at the theater.

Last week I mentioned how by spending $40 on dairy products at Safeway affiliate stores (our local store is Vons), you would get a Catalina coupon for two free movie tickets to see Ice Age - The Continental Drift in theaters this summer. You don't have to purchase them all at once, but be sure to use your club card so it keeps track of the purchases and gives you the Catalina coupon (the ones that the checker hands you with your receipt) once you spend $40.  But with the great deals and club card specials I was able to purchase the $40 and get amazing deals!  All the qualifying items were clearly marked so it was super easy to find more than enough to spend the $40.

I took both my boys with me on the shop and immediately their eyes lit up with excitement when they realized we were going to get Ice Age tickets!  I didn't know but my oldest had set a calendar reminder on his phone counting down the days until the movie was coming out.  He immediately started telling me about tid bits from the movie promos and other fun facts. 

Redeeming the Catalina voucher for the movies is super easy.  You go here once you have your coupon and follow the instructions (enter your email address, name, movie theater you want to redeem at, etc.) and you print out your voucher!  Easy!

For great meal ideas for the dairy products you can go here, or here or to learn more about the June Dairy Movies month you can go here.

Note: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Safeway #CBias #SocialFabric #JuneDairyMovies but all opinions are 100% my own.


Friday, June 8, 2012

S'mores Cheesecake - June Dairy Month Fun!

Summer is full of fun times in our house!  Barbeques, picnics, campfires, swimming and all sorts of fun family activities.  One of my childhood favorites was roasting s'mores over the campfire.

I recently had the chance to participate in a shop at Safeway brand stores (my local store is Vons) to purchase $40 in participating dairy products to redeem a voucher for two free movie tickets to see Ice Age Continental Drift when it comes out in theaters.  (For more information about this campaign including participating brands and stres you can go here.)  I was super excited because I knew this would be the perfect time to make my S'mores Cheesecake recipe using products from the shop!

It was super easy to track down the items for the shop.  Note that you do not need to purchase all the items at one time like I did to receive the voucher, I just chose to get them all at one time and got some incredible deals!  If you don't get them all at once - be sure to use your Safeway Club card (it will keep track of your June dairy purchases) during the month of June and keep an eye on the Catalina coupons (the ones the checker hands you with your receipt).  It's a great time to stock up on dairy!  I easily saved 37% on my shop using the Vons Just 4 U program and a couple coupons.  Vons is great about labeling all the qualifying items to get the Ice Age movie voucher and also has many of them listed in in the store insert (extras available at the entrance to the store).

Now on to my recipe!

S'mores Cheesecake
2 Philadelphia Cream Cheese Packages
1 Package Chocolate Chips
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Whipping Cream
3 Eggs
1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust (I cheat because I'm not patient enough to make my own!)
1 Package Large Marshmallows (for topping)
You can also drizzle chocolate syrup over the melted marshmallows for added yumminess!


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the cream cheese in a mixer bowl (I always use my large Kitchen Aid mixer).  Add in the 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/8 tsp of salt.  While this is mixing, I melt the chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave, stopping it every 30 seconds to give it a mix.  Add the chocolate in to the mixer once the cream cheese and sugar is smooth.  Then add in the 3/4 cup whipping cream.  Once that is mixed, add in the eggs one at a time.  Mix until smooth.

Then pour in the mix in to the pie crust and place on center rack in the oven.  Bake approximately 55 minutes or until center is set.

Let cool in refrigerator for a few hours. 

Add on a layer of the large marshmallows and put under broiler in oven until they puff up and brown.  For added yumminess, drizzle chocolate syrup over the cooled marshmallows!


For more great recipes you can go here or the Facebook page here.

Note:  I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Safeway #CBias #SocialFabric  #JuneDairyMovies All opinions and above recipe are 100% my own.  :)


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer Bucket List - Beach Day (Semi- Wordless Wednesday)

My boys are out for Summer vacation already!  Loving the early Summer!  Yesterday we had the chance to head down to our favorite beach - Crystal Cove State Beach in Newport Beach.  The boys had tons of fun exploring.

A beach day was number one on our Summer Bucket list.  What's on your list of must do activities for the Summer?  I'd love to hear about them and share them in guest posts!  Send me an email at OCMomActivites (at) Gmail (dot) com.

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