Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Disneyland Monorail - Wordless Wednesday

Happy Leap Day!

In honor of Leap Day Disneyland is staying open 24 hours and in honor of that I wanted to share this very recent picture we took while riding in the front cabin of the Monorail at Disneyland for Wordless Wednesday.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Energizer Light Up A Life Campaign - #EnergizerCFK #CBias

Here in Southern California we have one major weather event that everyone should prepare for but frequently don't - and that is earthquakes!  After a major earthquake, the purchasing of supplies goes way up, but that's the opposite of the way it should be!  Instead we should be stocking up on batteries, flashlights, water, first aid supplies, etc. before an earthquake occurs.  (In the area that I live in most of the power lines and other critical utilities are underground so we aren't as susceptible to rain storms affecting power).

I feel so fortunate to be able to be involved in the Energizer Light Up a Life Campaign to put together an emergency kit for the local Boys and Girls Club.  The Boys and Girls Club is a fantastic organization that works to keep kids from being latch key kids and to enable kids to have a safe place to go after (and before!) school that will assist in kids growing up happy and healthy.  I can't think of a more important place to send an emergency kit!

I headed down to my local Walmart (you can follow along on my journey on Google+ here.) to load up on Energizer batteries, Energizer flashlights, first aid supplies, non-perishable snacks and water bottles to include in the kit.

The kids helped me pack up the kit and even created a sign for the side to make it easily identifiable in an emergency.

The Boys and Girls Club was so appreciative for the donation with copious thank you's in the midst of kids running around using the facility!  Right then I knew that I wanted to be involved in more campaigns like this.  Our life has been so hectic and busy that I had just let my volunteering and donating become less frequent as it once had.  Seeing my boys be proud to bring this emergency kit to a deserving organization showed me they are ready to be more involved in similar activities also.

Would you like to get involved in the Light Up a Life Campaign?  Go here for more information and be sure to report back to the website that you participated!  The goal is to inspire 20 million people to Light Up a Life by 2020.  Like the Facebook page here, follow the campaign on Twitter here.  Every bit helps!

Note:  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias but all opinions are completely my own and I'm honored to be a part of this campaign!

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Super Mario Cupcakes with Nintendo 3DS Cake

To go with our "gamer" Birthday party theme, I had to figure out the perfect cake.  My son eventually decided he wanted a cake in the shape of his Aquamarine colored Nintendo 3DS.   Super simple to make (I used the Salted Caramel Cake/Cupcake recipe here) and used a regular 13x9 pan.  Covered in fondant with a few simple touches it actually looked pretty cool!



I am giving my absolutely fabulous neighbor the nickname of "Martha Stewart", it's not the REAL Martha Stewart, but she gives her a run for her money when it comes to the household and baking/cooking!  She came up with the absolutely fabulous idea of creating fondant mushroom cupcakes to go alongside the cake to bring in the Super Mario theme (which fits perfectly with the "gamer" theme).  With a little rolled fondant, circle spots and a scoop of frosting on top they came out amazing and grabbed by the kids at the first chance they had!

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Angry Birds Water Bottles for Kids Birthday Party

It's Birthday time in our house again!  For this party we went with the "gamer" theme.  My boys are definitely getting older so it's getting tougher and tougher to find an appropriate theme that isn't embarrassing, but is still cool in their eyes.  Wandering the aisles at our local party store was disappointing.  My son really just wanted the Angry Birds theme since it's a game all of his friends like.  You'd think with how crazy popular that game is that it would be super simple to track down themed items.  Apparently I couldn't be more wrong!

With a little creativity we were able to add some Angry Birds fun in to the party.  My son (who loves drawing Angry Birds pictures in his free time) drew small pictures of each bird character on small slips of paper.  We removed the regular labels on water bottles and replaced them with the pictures he had drawn.  If you are running short on time, printing a custom slip of paper would also work.

Super simple idea for a kids party!  The kids all absolutely loved them and were claiming their water bottles by the names of the characters (also made it very easy for the kids to remember which water bottle was theirs and drastically reduced swapping bottles by accident!).

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Light Up A Life Campaign for Kids #EnergizerCFK #CBias #ChampionsForKids

When the lights go out kids are the most affected.  As adults it's easier for us to understand why the lights may have gone out and know what to do.  Anything from weather to other natural disasters can cause the power to go out.  Here in Southern California, we don't have to worry about blizzards, hurricanes or other culprits, but we do very much have to think about Earthquake preparedness. 

Checking/restocking and adding to your home emergency kit is something many of us don't think about until its too late.  I grew up in the Bay Area and remember in vivid detail the '89 Loma Prieta quake.  To this day it affects so many of the choices I make!  I keep an elaborate first aid kit on each floor, extra non perishable food and always start to freak out a little when my gas tank gets below 1/4.  My husband still gives me a hard time about this, but he's never been through a major earthquake when all the gas stations go offline for an undetermined amount of time while they check for leaks, etc.

I'm so excited to be given the chance to participate in the Champions for Kids - Engerizer Light Up A Life Simple Service campaign to put together a preparedness kit for a local non-profit organization.  The goal is to put together a number of items to help keep kids safe in the event of an emergency.  It's an easy campaign to participate in and Energizer is looking to mobilize 20 million people by 2020 to participate.  Go here for more information to get involve and let them know you are participating!

I'm putting together a first aid kit, along with a flashlight, Energizer batteries, water bottles and a few other goodies to donate to a local Boys and Girls club.  I couldn't think of a more important place for kids to feel safe and taken care of in the event of an emergency!

Will join me and everyone else in taking a few minutes out of your day to help?


Note:This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.  The opinions expressed are completely that of my own.  #CBias #EnergizerCFK

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Potato Powered Clock as Science Fair Project - #GlueNGlitter #CBias

The Science Fair has been something I have looked forward to every year!  Call me crazy.  I love science and always have!  Picking the subject, creating the display and actually making it work can be a headache, but the moment your kids eyes light up and they are busting with excitement makes it all worth it!

This year my oldest came home knowing exactly what he wanted to do, he had seen it in years past and was determined to do it this year - to make a battery out of a potato.  Before I was agreeing to anything I checked about.com, and Wikipedia to first see how complicated this would actually be.  All of the websites said it was easy and showed detailed instructions (later I would find out there were key details not mentioned! But don't worry!  I'll tell you what they omitted!).  My son was excited to also try a mandarin orange, a banana and anything else we had laying around.

First off we headed down to our local Walmart (you can follow along with all of the pictures on the Google+ story here) to get an Elmer's Tri-Fold display board, Elmer's glue sticks, Elmer's glitter paint, zinc coated nails, copper, alligator clamps and a SUPER low voltage clock (this is by far the trickiest part of the ENTIRE experiment - you have to have one 1-2 volt clock to get it to work.  We initially got one that took too many volts and ended up having to buy a eco-battery kit because it came with a super low volt clock that we couldn't locate anywhere else).

We got to work on setting it all up by inserting one zinc coated nail in each potato and one copper piece in each potato.  Connect one copper piece from potato 1 to one zinc coated nail in potato 2 (using conductive wire and alligator clips).  Then connect the unused copper wire (or red wire) to the positive clip where the battery would go in the clock.  Connect the unused black wire (connected to the zinc nail) to the negative clip in the battery compartment.   It should look like the below picture. 

The kit we had purchased also came with a low voltage light and a sound chip that can be powered by the potato or fruit.  My boys had tons of fun playing around with the different combinations to see what else would work.  Little did we know you could mix and match the fruit and it would still power the clock and sound chip.

For decorating the tri-fold board, we cut up strips of construction paper and used the glue stick to attach along the border, then decorated with the gold Elmer's glitter pens to make lightening bolts.  I used the silver Elmer's glue pens to highlight each section (purpose, hypothesis, etc.).  Blue Elmer's glitter pens for the title (blue is my son's favorite color).

My kids had a ton of fun playing around with the different ways to make it work and learned at the same time.  Can't get better than that.

Happy Science Fair Project Season!  What are you testing out this year?

Note:  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias  #GlueNGlitter All opinions above are completely my own.  :)

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Two Words: Thin Mints

Two words: Thin Mints. 

I bet from those two words you know who makes them, what time of year they are available and can probably name at least one current Girl Scout selling them right now.  In case you don't have a resident Girl Scout, you can rest assured that they will now be selling outside your local grocery stores starting today! (I'm thinking this year of stocking up on the Thin Mints to crumble up and put in with frosting in the middle of Birthday Cakes...).

Over the years the Girl Scouts have done a tremendous job of helping girls learn leadership skills among many other valuable skills to grow up to be confident sucessful women.  Every box of cookies sold helps them attain these goals.  Want to support the Girl Scouts but don't want to add more cookies in your household?  Donate them to the Military!  Troops absolutely love them!  Talk to your local Girl Scout about specifics.

Be sure to become a fan of OCMomActivities on Facebook because I have several boxes of Girl Scout cookies to give away on the fan page over the weekend for the first people to correctly answer Girl Scout trivia!

To locate a Girl Scout selling cookies near you or more information about the cookie program in Orange County you can go here.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Medieval Times in Buena Park is a Great Family Fun Night!

Medievil Times dinner show in Buena Park was something we had wanted to do for a long time but hadn't gotten to yet.  We have friends who absolutely love it and make a point of going at least once a year so it was on my list of something to do with the kids before they got older.

We were recently invited to attend to celebrate the new show and upgraded menu.  It was an absolutely amazing night and something I can't recomend enough!  I've never seen my youngest (age 8) get so in to a show!  He was literally screaming at the top of his lungs cheering on our horsemen! 

There are team crowns to wear, ribbons to wave and more to help cheer on your team.  The visuals are awe inspiring, with solos to jousting there isn't a quiet moment!  (The show runs about 2 hours).  Remember you are in the Medieval Times... so be prepared to eat with your hands (the soup bowl has a handle).  My boys initially couldn't believe they got to eat with their hands but by the end thought it was the coolest thing!

It's a super fun family outing that if you haven't done, you need to book your reservations asap!  There is currently a great deal for the new show (details here). 

Couple of tips:  There isn't assigned seating, so arrive early so you can be closer to the arena.  Enter with your entire group so that you will be seated together.  Come hungry - there will be plenty of food and drinks.  Arrive early to enjoy all the pre-show festivities (including pictures with the King or Queen), viewing the gorgeous horses and to peruse the gift shop.

To purchase tickets go here.  There are also multiple locations across the country if you can't get to Buena Park.

Note:  No compensation was recieved for this post - but tickets were provided to facilitate the review.  The opinions are stictly that of my own as well as the images taken above.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Einkorn Pasta - Fantastic alternative to other whole grain pastas!

I'm really focusing on eating healthy and getting more exercise.  Eating whole grains is super important, but unfortunately many of the more common whole grain pastas are made with oats which is a no no in our house due to my (as well as my oldest) crazy oat allergy.

Recently I was sent a unique type of whole grain pasta to try and LOVED it!  It's made with 100% Einkorn whole grain (an ancient form of wheat).  It's loaded with protein (9 gm per serving), and number of other vitamins (with real daily value amounts!). 

The above pictured recipe is super easy and so delicious!  Cook the pasta as directed, saute chicken (leftover chicken works great), fresh broccoli, garlic in several tablespoons of olive oil.  Add in the pasta once cooked and 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese.  (note you can also add in cherry tomatoes - sliced in half to the saute for some gorgeous color!).  It's a perfect weeknight meal that is sure to be a hit in your house!

You can find the Jovial products (check out all the other amazing sustainably packaged products they offer!) at Sprouts, Whole Foods, Amazon, Mother's Market and more.  Check their website here for more information and to locate a store that sells it near you.

Note: No compensation was received for this post but product was received to facilitate the review.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Every year I buy a dozen lavender roses on Valentine's Day (yes those are mine in the picture).  They aren't for me, but they mean so very much to me.  I buy them in memory of my mother because the rose garden we created is a memory I will cherish forever.    

Take a few minutes this Valentine's Day to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Buy One Get One Free at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is offering a buy one get one deal tomorrow (Valentine's Day)!  Be sure to head down to buy your drink and get a free one for your Valentine!  You can go here for location information.  You know where I'll be heading tomorrow!

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Pretend City 2 for 1 Valentine's Day Deal

Pretend City in Irvine, CA is offering a 2 for 1 deal tomorrow!  Print out the above picture for a free adult admission with the purchase of a child's admission.  For directions, hours and other information on Pretend City you can go here.  Happy Valentine's day!!!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Focusing on me again and the sore muscles that go with it!

The last couple of years have been crazy in our house.  Because I had been just so plain busy working full time and being Mom, I had not taken care of myself as much as I wanted to.  I had gained a lot more weight than I was comfortable with and it was driving me nuts.  We've recently made some really big changes in our house that have allowed me to take more time to focus on getting healthy again.

I joined a fantastic gym and over the last few weeks I've been spending several hours at the gym 5 days a week to work on getting back in to shape.  But I have a tendency to push myself because of my impatience.  It's normal to not be able to lift your arms above your waist, right?  It's certainly not going to deter me from working out because I know that it's a sign of building muscle and that is my goal! 

Life does get in the way though and unfortunately I can't walk around with these crazy sore muscles all the time.  Recently I was sent several tubes of Topricin to sample (a topical pain relief gel).  I hadn't ever used topical pain relief gels before and honestly didn't think they would work.  But last night in an effort to not feel like I was walking around with dumbbells for arms, I grabbed the Topricin and rubbed it on my sore muscles and almost immediately felt relief!  I was shocked and so excited to be able to move my arms above my waist without cringing!!!

So, if you're still going strong with your New Year's Resolution to get back in shape, I highly recommend grabbing some Topricin to ease those aching muscles!

Note:  No compensation was received for this post - but samples were provided for review.  The ridiculously sore muscles were provided by me and the genuine relief was beyond appreciated!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mimi's Cafe is Going Red for Heart Awareness Month!

February is Heart Awareness Month.  This year it hits a little closer to home for me than it ever has.  Several months ago I started having episodes of very high blood pressure.  For years I've been so proud of having low blood pressure (in spite of genetics that aren't good!).  I had been under a tremendous amount of stress, so when the blood pressure spikes occurred it scared me, tremendously because the dangers or heart disease are so immense.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women as well as men.

I'm in the process of making drastic changes in my life so celebrating Heart Awareness at this point in my life is particularly special!

You may have seen through the OCMomActivities Facebook fan page or through Twitter how last week Mimi's Cafe was offering a free cup of (the most amazingly yummy) tomato basil soup for anyone wearing red at the restaurant.  

Mimi's Restaurant is also celebrating Heart Awareness throughout February - for every $1 donation, guests can create a red heart-shaped tribute card on the red dress display inside the restaurant. For every $5 donation, guests will also receive a commemorative red dress lapel pin.  Guests who donate will also receive up to $35 in savings.  You can also go to the Mimi's Facebook page here for a fun app to show your support for women and heart awareness!

A friend and I headed down to Mimi's to show our support by wearing red last Friday and I particularly loved the red strawberries that looked like hearts!  I'm sure it was a coincidence, but it wasn't lost on me! (PS, the salad was sooooo delicious too!)



Note:  No Compensation was received for this post, but our lunches were covered to facilitate the writing of the post.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Firetruck Cake for a Fantastic Kid!

Take a peek a this cake I created for DayTrippingMom.com's sons' birthday party last week!  I used the salted caramel cupcake recipe to make the cakes and used the frosting recipe listed on yesterday's post here.  It was a huge hit and everyone was asking for the recipe!  Now I'm looking for another reason to make a cake!

She had the Mobile Pizza Unit out to make pizzas on the Firetruck, so we ran with the theme to make the cake.  Such fun!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Salted Caramel Mocha and Cupcakes #MyBaristaMoment

I'm a major coffee addict.  I admit it.  I can't start my day without a cup of coffee to wake up and frequently need a cup mid-day to keep from falling asleep before 8pm.  I spend a lot of money at well known coffee franchises and my husband gives me a really hard time about it. 

Recently I've been playing around with how to make some of my favorite coffee shop drinks at home.  Ones that are just as good, not knock off versions.  During the holidays I got hooked on a certain Salted Caramel Mocha and have been determined to figure out how to make one just as good at home so I can cut down on the expense.  I did it!  And here's how, and an added bonus?  I'm including a recipe on how to make a salted caramel cupcake to go with!  You'll be feeling like a barista in your house when you try these super simple yet amazing recipes yourself!  Fantastic for playgroups, having friends over for coffee or weekend splurges.

I headed down to our local Smart & Final (you can follow along on Google+ here to see the images) to grab some Ambiance brand Kona Coffee (seriously the best price I have seen for Kona coffee and it's delicious!), and the other ingredients I'd need. 

Ingredients you will need (and all are at a fantastic price at Smart & Final):

Cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • Caramel Syrup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with papers. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add vanilla. Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway full. Bake for about 25 minutes. When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

Cut small section on the top of the cupcakes and drizzle the caramel syrup in the center. Replace the small square back before putting icing on top.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth. Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable. In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes). Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration. If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny. If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Top caramel-filled cupcakes with frosting. Drizzle with remaining caramel and sprinkle with coarse salt!

Salted Caramel Mocha:
  • Kona Coffee
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Chocolate powder
  • 1 tablespoon caramel syrup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pinch of coarse sea salt

Use several Tablespoons of Kona coffee in french press.  Fill with boiling water.  Allow to steep for several minutes.  Microwave 1 cup of milk and froth with hand frother (or small whisk works).  Whisk in chocolate powder.  Drizzle the caramel syrup along the inside rim of the coffee mug (that has frothed milk), add in coffee.  Sprinkle a dash of the coarse sea salt.  Voila - easy salted caramel mocha that will having you feeling like a barista!

Want to switch to Ambiance coffee?  Go to www.smartandfinal.com/Ambiance2012 enter the code on the receipt from your purchase of Ambiance and be entered to win some of these amazing prizes: First Prize (one grand prize per week, 3 total over the campaign): DeLonghi BCO264B Cafe Nero Combo Coffee/Espresso Maker, a $200 value!, or one of six $50 SmartCash cards (Two winners per week, 6 winners total)


Take a minute to go vote for my recipe!  Go to the www.smartandfinal.com/Ambiance2012 where you will be able to vote for your favorite (mine of course!) Ambiance Coffee recipe and everyone who votes will be entered for a chance to win $50 worth of Ambiance products! (6 winners - Two winners per week over the campaign).


Note:  This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias #CBias The recipe is unique and all opinions above are completely my own.  But feel free to share this post with all your friends!  :)

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