Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010 Buying Guide – simplehuman

My love of simplehuman products is deep and vast.  It just doesn’t feel like a year end review without covering some items of genius for the home from the one company that seems to solve all my domestic problems.  Everyone knows I’m relatively un-domestic.  I don’t want to have to DEAL with household furnishings.  I want stuff that is simple, easy and solves my problems.  The other thing most people don’t realize is that most of the stuff I’m talking about, like the Tension Shower Caddy I reviewed last year and the Steel Frame Dishrack I reviewed last Summer, are things you use all. The. Time.  You shower, you eat, you live your daily life in your home.  It makes sense to get the good stuff that lasts and looks good.

napkinholder For this round, I’m really excited about three products I’d like to introduce you to.  Let’s kick it off with the Quick Grip Napkin Holder which holds approximately 75 quadrifold napkins while allowing you to pull out just one napkin at a time.  The weighted tension arm simultaneously works as a paperweight while keeping the stack neat.  The sleek stainless steel style makes it totally all about the napkins.   This is great for outdoor events or heck even when I have my kitchen window open.  Your typical “vertical letter holder style” napkin holder is ridiculous compared to this.  I had inexpensive, bumpy textured, lower weight napkins stacked in the Quick Grip and was able to easily remove the top one without disturbing the stack.  This holder is also ideal for toddlers, as in my family, who can just grab for the top napkin.  The Quick Grip Napkin Holder is $19.99, has a 5 year warranty and also comes in a bamboo version.

My love affair with simplehuman began years ago with The Wall Mount Grocery Bag Holder which was perfect in my previous kitchen.  Where I live now,bagholder however, the wall mount is not an ideal setup.  Thus, when I noticed that simplehuman offers The Upright Bag Holder, I knew I had found my new solution.  It has a slim design that I describe as being about “two cereal boxes wide and a little bit longer”.  It fits easily in my kitchen cabinet (where I keep it) but it also looks totally great on a countertop like a stainless steel kitchen accessory anyone would have.  The base is sturdy and non-skid with rubber pads that also protect surfaces.  You put your plastic shopping bags in the top and pull them out through the wide front opening.  The official capacity is listed as 50 bags, but I’ve been known to jam more than that in.  The Upright Bag Holder is $16.99 and has a 10 year warranty.

It’s interesting to note that I am totally gung-ho about a product that stores “plastic shopping bags” and maybe you would be thinking that’s not so great for the environment.  Let me state that I am a huge proponent of reusable shopping bags and I own a bunch of them.  I use them constantly.  However, in my household, there is a real need for plastic bags and I think that reusing plastic shopping bags is a good way to minimize consumption.  We have diapers, a dog and….Well, without oversharing, you know that there are times you need a plastic bag!  Which brings me to the final product I’d like to share with you: The Profile Open Can.  I have space challenges in two bathrooms, and this product fits right where I need to put trash profile open can cans.  I prefer open top trash cans in my bathrooms, it’s so much easier to toss and go.  But, even more importantly, if you have awkward spaces, getting a foot maneuvered to open a step can is just silly.  Of course, I want to have a liner in my swell Profile Open Can, and what do I use?  Plastic shopping bags!  The can is stainless steel and has a 2.6 gallon capacity which is exactly right for your typical plastic grocery bag.  There is a removable inner bucket that has handles designed to hold a grocery bag in place.  Then, as if that weren’t perfect enough, there is a removable top frame that covers the inner bucket and hides any of the plastic bag, giving a totally clean look.  I really would love it if simplehuman offered this can in more colors and/or materials.  I think this is the only can any bathroom needs.  The Profile Open Can is $29.99 and comes with a 5 year warranty.

One question I always ask myself when I consider a purchase is: does this solve more than one problem for me?  If the answer is, “yes”, that is a big justification for me to open my wallet.  simplehuman products always solve more than one problem.  They even solve problems you didn’t even know you had until you start using them—their product line is that well conceived.  You can order their products directly from as well as at many retailers, visit the website to find a store near you.

Disclosure: simplehuman provided me with these three products for the purpose of this review.

Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 Buying Guide – VTech Cordless Phone System

DS6321-3_rep The VTech DS6321-3 is an expandable, three handset, cordless phone system with a digital answering machine.  The feature that takes this cordless phone to the next level is that it has Cellular Connection through BLUETOOTH technology.  This means you can synch your cell to your VTech system and never miss a call.  That has become kind of a big deal to me lately.  I get a call on my cell and it’s sitting in my purse in the other room or charging somewhere—where I can’t hear it.  The beauty of this system is that your cell will ring through your cordless phone and you can use the closest handset to answer.  Another interesting feature is that with the move away from landlines, you can still have this system in your house and use it only for your cell phone.  Like a whole house BLUETOOTH set up.  This comes with 3 handsets (each with its own charging base) but is expandable up to 12. 

The DS6321-3  is the first cordless phone system capable of downloading cellular phonebook directory entries using the BLUETOOTH technology, making it really easy to just pick up the phone and use your cell line.  Up to four BLUETOOTH devices (cell phones, smartphones, headsets) can be registered on the DS6321-3, and two cellular phones can be connected to the DS6321-3 at one time.  Operating as a virtual two-line system, the DS6321-3 also allows users to be on a landline call on one handset, while another handset can be used simultaneously for a cellular call.  You can set the ringtones on the handsets so you know if it’s a cell call or a landline call coming in.  For hands-free landline conversations, users can make and receive traditional landline calls on the DS6321-3 while using a BLUETOOTH headset, or take advantage of the handset speakerphones.  I don’t have a BLUETOOTH headset since I have it wired into my car, so I use the handset speakerphone, mainly when I’m waiting on hold. 

This brings me to my nit-picky wish list for this system: I wish it had a regular headset jack so that I could have a hands-free conversation (as I mentioned, I don’t have a BLUETOOTH headset), I wish it had a belt clip which is something I actually used on my last cordless system and as a busy mom, I can frequently multi-task with a phone clipped on and a headset.  These would seem to be really basic things that I would personally appreciate having.  Another negative I’ve noticed is that the “delete” function on the answering system is very unforgiving.  When you are done listening to a message, you literally run the risk of deleting the next message if you hit the delete button.  There is no “margin” between messages.  I’ve found it’s safer to run through the messages once and THEN go back and delete.  In all my answering machines, over the years, I’ve never had this “phobia of deleting the next message.”  So, I’ve got that workaround.  Overall, I’ve been happy with this system and will continue to use it.  It is comfortable to hold, the battery life has been mostly sufficient, however, we do tend to keep them on the chargers when not in use.  Coincidentally, both my mother and my sister who live in different parts of the country bought this exact same system independent of knowing that I had it too.  They are both happy with it.  MSRP is $99.95, but I have seen it at major retailers and wholesale clubs for less.

Disclosure: I was provided with one VTech DS6321-3 for review purposes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Buying Guide – Razor Scooters

RazorLogo The dot-com era image that totally nails it in my Gen-X brain, to this day, is the hipster riding a Razor Scooter through the office.RazorScooter   The funny thing is that although most of those dot-coms crashed and burned, The Razor Scooter has continued on a smooth glide into its 10th anniversary.  My family and I were super lucky to be invited to a Razor Playdate recently where we got to try out a number of Razor products.  In fact, Razor now has 50 ride-on products with something for everyone.  I always believe in starting with the original concept, thus the Limited Edition 10th Anniversary Model is the Razor Scooter to me.  The aluminum frame and urethane wheels give such a smooth glide and the adjustable height handlebars and 200 lb weight capacity make it an accessible ride.  The scooter is only 6 lbs and is easy to fold and carry.  Recommended for ages 5+ with a MSRP of $99.99, although I have seen it at major retailers with a lower price tag.

For the littlest ones, like Lulu, I recommend a “training scooter”.  The Razor Lil’ Kick scooter has three wheels which allowLilKicks for the preschool crowd to work on their confidence and coordination without having to simultaneously focus on balance.  The Lil’ Kick also has a wider deck that lets the rider have both feet squarely on board.  Extra-large wheels and a handle-bar pad are nice added touches for a child’s first Razor Scooter.  Recommended for ages 3+ with a MSRP of $39.99.

razorRipRider Now onto the RipRider 360, which is just so awesome.  I wish I had this when I was a kid.  It’s the 2010 version of a 1970’s Big Wheel!  The rear dual-inclined caster wheels allow for total free-wheeling.  You can ride along and then drift and spin out effortlessly.  At the Razor Playdate, I watched a 12 year old boy having a blast on it and he gave me two thumbs up when I asked him if he would recommend it to his friends.  The RipRider 360 has won a bunch of awards over the past couple of years.  Being a mom who sees a lot of toys and is seeing toys from her own childhood come back, I was really wowed by the RipRider 360.  Finally, something that caused this perhaps slightly jaded mom to say, “HEY!  What’s that?!”  Recommended for ages 5+ with a MSRP of $129.99.  Many of my readers know how important the topic of child safety is to me.  At the Razor Playdate we were invited to bring our own helmets and safety gear if we had it and they also supplied it to anyone who wanted to try any of the products and didn’t have their own.  I strongly urge anyone who gets any of these amazing Razor products for the children in their lives also make sure they have the necessary safety equipment to go along with it.  Razor shares tips and info on their commitment to safety on their site.

Disclosure: My family and I were invited by Razor to attend their Playdate Event where we were given the Limited Edition 10th Anniversary Scooter.  Razor gave me the Lil’ Kick Scooter and RipRider 360 for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

“Community” on NBC

CommunityLogo Ultimately, in this town, it’s who you know, not what, if you want to get your minivan onto a studio lot, primo parking and set access.  Hollywood connections, are the nature of my game.  That said, myself and several other awesome mom bloggers visited the set of the NBC sit-com, Community, a few days ago.  The basic premise of the show is that it’s a group of misfits who all attend Greendale Community College together.  We had a fabulous time hanging out on the set, watching some of the taping and meeting members of the cast.  While we kicked back on one of the sets they weren’t currently shooting on, Joel McHale, Ken Jeong, Alison Brie and John Oliver stopped by for a fun and fairly silly Q & A with us.  Because, hey, it’s a COMEDY, and these folks can’t just stop and be totally serious, right?  I had secretly hoped that Chevy Chase would be on set that day, because, he is such a legend.  My father was a huge fan.  Alas, he wasn’t taping that day.  We next headed over to an executive dining room on The Paramount Lot for lunch with Yvette Nicole Brown, who was just awesome.  She is so fun and upbeat and talked with us about a whole range of topics.

The big reason for our attendance was to learn about the “Very Special” Community airing tonight at 8/7c on NBC.  In the quick video I’ve added in here, you can watch some of the cast talking behind the scenes info about the episode.  It’s stop-action claymation like the classic Christmas shows from our childhood.  NUP_142682_0001 ABED'S UNCONTROLLABLE CHRISTMAS: THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS IS LOST AND ABED’S INTENSE FIXATION ON CHRISTMAS CONCERNS THE GROUP —When Abed (Danny Pudi) wakes up in stop-motion animation, he takes it as a sign that he and the group must re-discover the meaning of Christmas. Meanwhile, Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) become growingly concerned about Abed's mental health and enlist the help of Professor Duncan (John Oliver). The group undergoes hypnosis to explore Abed's winter wonderland and soon unravel the truth behind Abed’s madness. Chevy Chase, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, and Ken Jeong also star.  Review:  I was lucky to get a special early viewing of the episode and it is so awesome!  The stop-action animation is executed really well.  All the characters come together, although transformed into clay, to help Abed.  Everything is so true to the “regular” show.  The story line is really clever and fun.  It would be interesting to see if this becomes a cult holiday classic.  There will be a Community “Live Viewing Party” on Twitter hashtag #nbcCommunity tonight at 8pm EST/7 CST/5 pm PST and there will be cast members participating and giving out prizes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cookie Exchange Week

CookieExchangeApparently December 6-12, 2010 has been designated Cookie Exchange Week.  Why?  I don’t know, or really care, but I find it amusing.  You see, exactly one year ago I was invited to my first cookie exchange and was so overwhelmed at the idea of it all that I was compelled to blog about it for the now closed Los Angeles Moms Blog.  Since I now find there is a whole week devoted to it, it certainly seems appropriate that we revisit my old post.  This year I even feel more amused by the cookie exchange subculture upon finding blog posts here and here that explain with painstaking detail how you might go about having a cooking exchange, like starting two weeks ahead and assuring you don’t get duplicate recipes.  Oh my.  Hold me.

Cookie Exchange Angst

(Originally posted December 11, 2009 here)

I have come to accept the fact that I am an imposter among my peers.  Everyone I know has their domestic lives firmly in order, meanwhile the only cleaning supplies I own are a bottle of windex and baby wipes.  I recently received an e-mail that sent me so far over the edge that I’ve begun to question who I really am and where I came from.  The e-mail subject: You are invited to a Cookie Exchange.  I’d never heard of such a thing.  Me, who has lived in several foreign countries, considers herself fairly hip to American Culture and was on Jeopardy!  Somehow the cookie exchange never made it into my consciousness.  The e-mail said simply: You are invited to a cookie exchange, bring three dozen cookies.  Must be homemade.  Great, I thought, I don’t even know what this is and I can’t buy my way out of it either.  Of course, I proceeded to Google “cookie exchange” and became even more confused.  Seems like there are all kinds of variations.  Bring cookies beautifully wrapped, bring the recipe, bring several copies of the recipe, bring an elegant tin to exchange with another participant.  Interestingly, no where does it really explain what your end result is?  Do you eat cookies at the exchange?  Or do you just exchange them?  If you bring three dozen, do you leave with three dozen?  Here’s where I’m really confused: What do I then do with the three dozen cookies?  Yes, I know, I could eat them.  I could give them away.  I could throw them away.  I want to know what people do with their cookie exchange cookies.  Do all my domestic goddess friends live in idyllic neighborhoods where carolers come by and you happen to have hot cocoa and your cookie exchange cookies all arranged on a Christmas Tree shaped plate?  The carolers finish belting out “Silver Bells”, yank off their mittens and then huddle in your elegantly appointed foyer sipping and munching?

I have so many questions.  The questions beget more questions and then I find myself calling friends who I think are “in the know”.  Each friend I have called does in fact know of cookie exchanges.  Yet, each one has given me different scenarios.  None can really answer my questions, such as: How large a container do I bring?  What if everyone else has large or odd shaped cookies and they don’t fit in my container?  I have cookie exchange anxiety.  The words “Cookie Exchange” peer back at me from my calendar.  It is scheduled for next week.  I don’t cook.  I don’t bake.  I don’t have flour in my house.  Clearly, it doesn’t appear likely that I will be participating in the exchange.  The obstacles in my way are too great.  Yet, I’m oddly intrigued.  I even feel left out in advance.  Secretly, I want to just go and see what it is and not have to participate.  Or, maybe a friend will be like, “Hey, Liz, you wanna take a dozen cookies?  I can’t possibly take three dozen home especially with Artie on Atkins and all.”  Maybe I can be an “alternate” at the cookie exchange?  Taking the unwanted dozens and half dozens from my friends and acquaintances.  How can I pitch that to the host?  Is that even appropriate?  I mean, I could offer to be an alternate cookie-taker and sign a release that I’m fully aware I may not get any cookies.  Right?  Is that being fun and creative or just being annoying and freaky?

Not ready to give up I had an idea.  What really is the definition of “homemade”?  Made in the home?  What is the definition of “made”?  I starting thinking about Sandra Lee and her “semi-homemade” franchise.  If half of the ingredients are homemade that should be sufficient, I’m thinking.  If I bake them in the oven, even if most of the preparation is not homemade, that ought to qualify, I’m sure.  I looked at some of Sandra’s recipes.  They look like a lot of work.  Pretty much as much work as totally homemade.  Making cookies is not easily shortcut-able like, say, doctoring up a store bought roast chicken with a jar of ponzu sauce and some crushed wontons.  Dang.

If I really, really want in and have no shame.  I could show up and claim mommy brain.  “Liz, where are your cookies?” Me: “Cookies?  Oh, my gosh!  I thought we were playing bunco!  I swear, my brain went out with the placenta!  But, wow, don’t those pecan sandies look divine!”  What could they do?  Send me away without cookies?  I think I’ve found my in.  Heh.

Update 12/12/10: Today a woman named Julia Usher started following me on Twitter.  Why, remains a mystery.  However, I looked at her profile and was fascinated to find she is the author of a book called “Cookie Swap” and that there is a website, that currently states on its homepage that cookie swaps are NOT just for Christmas anymore!  I am becoming obsessed by this sub-culture.  I want to meet Julia Usher and take her to lunch.

This is an original post for the Los Angeles Moms Blog.

When Elizabeth Peterson isn't in training sessions for the Pillsbury Bake Off, she can be found over at her personal blog, Traded My BMW for a Minivan.

Comments (these are the original comments from the LA Moms Blog post)

Nicole Pelton said...

I love this post, such creative ideas. I'd have you over just for the entertainment. I always though it would be fun to have a cookies exchange, but I love to bake. My cookie donations for bake sales are often the ones given away free since they are small or pitiful looking :) I remember reading some articles or blog posts or something on cookie exchanges, and people had all these rules...they had to be big and fancy - forget tollhouse choc chip, wrapped up, people served all this gourmet food for snacking. Believe me, my cookie exchange would never be like that.

Reply December 11, 2009 at 10:40 AM

April said...

This is only my 2nd year participating in a cookie exchange. Last year, I used the dough from one of my girls' fundraiser. This year, in a scheduling screw-up, I had to call in re-inforcements: my dad made the cookies for me :)

Reply December 11, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Eunice said...

you should just bake the cookies you made yesterday, those are totally homemade. I think she just meant don't bring chips ahoy.

Reply December 11, 2009 at 12:54 PM

elizabeth said...

so funny -- I've missed your clever posts. As for cookie exchanges, I think that's a fancy person's problem and you should just relax. It'd be great to go to Costco or something and buy a tray of cookies and bring those. Why not?

Reply December 11, 2009 at 03:20 PM

Diane said...

I loved your post.

Reply December 11, 2009 at 05:22 PM

Elizabeth said...

Aack! I've been plotting to serve 3 dozen cookies on a Christmas-tree shaped plate for a caroling party. Now I have to think up something original. . .

Liz, an aging late-to-the-pary suburbanite.

Reply December 11, 2009 at 08:28 PM

Sarah Auerswald said...

This is a crack-up! I have actually heard of cookie exchanges, but never participated in one -- and now, if I were asked to, I'd freak out because who knew there were so many variations? Plus I am really not the right kind of person for it -- I would only want to take the kind of cookies I like and leave the rest... Bad! I know.

Reply December 11, 2009 at 09:44 PM

Teresa DeGagne said...

Great post! Good luck with that. I seriously have a terrific cookie recipe involving 4 ingredients. One of them is cake mix. Cake mix for cookies...who knew?

Reply December 12, 2009 at 07:46 AM

Erin S. said...

Fun post! My girlfriend does a cookie exchange every year that needs an auxillary title: "Wine & Cheese/Box-Up-Other-Moms'-Cookies-to-Take-Home-to-Your-Kids Night"!!

Reply December 18, 2009 at 08:47 AM

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sauza, Chef Marcela & Ladies Night in LA

MarcelaLadies What an absolutely fun and yummy night we had last night!  I am going to admit I had no idea of how creative and high end you can get with tequila when knowing what to do with it!  Chef Marcela totally showed us how it’s done.  She prepared four cocktails, four dishes and one dessert!    Chef Marcela has kindly shared her recipes with us…The brussels sprouts were to die for!  We all had such a blast and Chef Marcela was so lovely to speak with.  I’d like to thank Sauza Tequila for sponsoring our party.  With the holiday season upon us, it is super important to realize that drinking and driving do not mix!  Sauza provided car service for all our blogger attendees, generously provided their service and The Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club hosted two of our guests who traveled from out of town.  Additionally, I’d like to thank everyone who participated on Twitter and Facebook last night asking questions and joining in the fun.  Big thank you to Daytrippingmom for letting me use her iPad…Made it so much easier to tweet while simultaneously holding a cocktail. 


In case you missed the live stream, here is a video that my amazing co-host Deb Lavdas put together to show you all a some of our Ladies Night in LA:


Three of the cocktail and the shrimp recipes are included in the scattered images above.  The extremely popular lamb and brussels sprouts recipes are below.  You can find the other recipes Marcela prepared last night, including the Warm Winter Margarita, on the Sauza Tequila Facebook page.  Thanks for celebrating with us.  I hope you have a holiday season filled with fun, warmth and while you are at it, try adding some Sauza in to the festivities!

Rack of Lamb with Ancho Crust

Serves 4

1 ancho chile, stemmed and seeded

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

3 large shallots, minced

2 teaspoons thyme chopped

1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs made from French bread

Salt and pepper To Taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 well trimmed racks of lamb (each about 1 1/4 pounds)

3 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Jalapeño jelly (optional)

Tear the chile into small pieces and place in a spice grinder. Grind the chile to a powder.

Melt butter in large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and thyme and saute for 3 minutes, or until the shallots are soft. Add the chile powder and stir. Add the bread crumbs and cook for 5 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden brown. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the crumb topping cool.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat olive oil in large heavy skillet over high heat. Season the lamb racks all over with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add the lamb racks to the skillet, rounded side down. Sear for 6 minutes, or until brown. Transfer the racks to a large rimmed baking sheet, seared side up. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons of the mustard over each rack. Press the crumb topping into the mustard.

Roast for 20 minutes for a medium rare, or until desired doneness. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing in to chops. Serve with jalapeño jelly is desired.

Brussels Sprouts in Morilla Cream

Serves 4-6


3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 pounds brussels sprouts. halved

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds

3 scallions (white and pale green parts only)

1 morilla chile, stemmed, seeded, and very thinly sliced

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Salt and pepper To Taste

Method of Preparation:

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the brussels sprouts and stir for 1 minute to coat them with butter. Add the broth, cover, and simmer for 7 minutes, or until the brussels sprouts are tender. Uncover and continue to simmer for 4 minutes, or until all of the broth evaporates. Transfer brussels sprouts to medium bowl.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in same pan. Add the sunflower seeds, scallions, and chile and saute for 2 minutes, or until the nuts are toasted and chile is tender. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, return the brussels sprouts to pan, and toss to coat them with the cream. Season the brussels sprouts to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, December 6, 2010

There’s a Sauza Holiday Party in My House Tonight


And you are invited!  This evening, Monday December 6, Chef Marcela Valladolid whom some of you may know from her Food Network Show, “Mexican Made Easy” is coming to my house to share some of her favorite holiday recipes using  Sauza® Tequila.  I’ve been a fan of Marcela’s since I saw her compete on Martha Stewart’s Apprentice a few years ago and am really looking forward to meeting her tonight.  I’m fairly convinced I may have been Mexican in a former life because it is my favorite cuisine.  Chef Marcela will get the Sauza® Tequila out for a Ladies Night in with some of my really great food and mom blogger friends from all over So. California.  Here is the best part though…YOU are invited too!  You can join in the fiesta because we are streaming this live on Sauza's Facebook page from 7:15 PST - 8:30 PST.

Marcela is going to demonstrate and share her recipes including a shrimp dish I got some pre-party intelligence on—you won’t want to miss.  She is also going to make some tasty cocktails, because, it’s not a party at my house without some tasty beverages.  I love a margarita and am intrigued that Marcela will be showing us how to make her favorite Warm Winter Margarita.  Oh, and it gets even better!  I’ve got some of my favorite bloggers co-hosting with me: Sugar Jones, Deb Lavdas and Ana Flores.  In addition to talking to us live on the Sauza Facebook page, you can send your questions about tequila, Mexican Cuisine, general cooking questions…ask away to #LadiesNightInLA on Twitter and Marcela will answer them live.  Make sure you are following all of us on Twitter: @MintCool @laflowers @sugarjones and @deblavdas to get in on the party fun.  If you can't catch the webcast but want to join the discussion, visit enter #LadiesNightInLA and you are good to go!  It’s going to be a blast, so make sure you grab your bottle of Sauza and get ready to follow along.  I’ll see you tonight!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bigfoot the Monster—he’s in a mood

BigFoot The legend of Bigfoot has always been fascinating to me.  I still wonder if we will ever prove the existence of Bigfoot (or Sasquatch or Yeti or Abominable Snowman or…).  But, at least for now, Fisher-Price has Bigfoot in existence and he is sure one of the hottest toys this holiday season.  This remote control toy is recommended for ages 3-8, which is just about perfect for my kids.  One of the best things about the wireless remote control is that the buttons have images on them, enabling pre-readers to maneuver Bigfoot and “see” what they are commanding him to do.

Bigfoot is also a moody blue-eyed dude—which I think is really clever for a toy.  There is a Bigfoot Facebook App that let’s you share your mood with all your friends.  I just did it and I was feeling impatient, that’s the Bigfoot Mood I shared with my FB friends…I’m betting most of my friends are nodding in agreement.  It’s a fun app and I recommend checking it out and while you’re there, entering the sweepstakes to win your own BIGFOOT the Monster.  Because winning an awesome toy during the holidays puts ANYONE in a good mood!

I have been compensated for my participation in this campaign.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Playmobil Advent Calendars


I’ve been a big fan of Playmobil ever since I discovered the toys a few years ago.  Chip had a big pirate phase and Playmobil was perfect with a large selection of figures and accessories for all kinds of fun, imaginative play.  My mother-in-law lives in Sweden and since Playmobil is a German company, they get the new products over there first.  When we are in Sweden, a visit to a toy store to check out Playmobil’s latest offerings is always on my to-do list.  I was really thrilled when Playmobil sent me The Police Advent Calendar to review because Chip LOVES everything police!  He was a SWAT police officer for Halloween and loves police toys.  The thing that really bothers me about advent calendars in general is that I only seem to be able to find chocolate ones.  Considering most kids want to open an advent “door” each morning, starting off with a piece of chocolate is odd to me.  Playmobil’s clever concept, literally, behind each day’s door is that there is a new toy and by Christmas the child has a complete playset that continues to be play-worthy!  In addition to The Police, there are four more Playmobil Advent Calendars offered for 2010: Christmas in the Forest, Pony Ranch, Dragon’s Land, and Unicorn in Fairy World

The outer box has a numbered diagram showing which toy is behind which day’s door.  This is totally convenient for parents to see and doesn’t ruin the surprise for the kids because you remove the actual calendar from this outer box.  I’m impressed that most days actually contain several items making for a nice collection by day 24.  The calendar box itself turns into play scene at the end as well!  Kind of a totally amazing idea and a nice pre-Christmas gift at a great price point.  I just showed The Police Advent Calendar to Chip today and he is absolutely

beside himself asking when he can open the first door.  He is asking if it’s tomorrow…And he keeps asking.  Ok, only a couple of days until December 1st.  This is also a fun way to reinforce the calendar skills we have been working on.  I think I’ll put an actual month of December calendar next to the Playmobil Advent Calendar and ask chip to match up the day on the door to the day of the month.  These advent calendar playsets are recommended for ages 4+ and retail for about $16.99.  Basic adult set-up required (wordless directions=easy).  Available at as well as brick and mortar stores nationwide. Thank you to Playmobil for sending me The Police Advent Calendar to enable me to write this review.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Death In The Family

Occasionally you hear something like: "Due to a death in the family [insert explanation]." My father passed away exactly one month ago and it is very much my explanation as to why I haven't been posting. Although, I often think of so much I could post about relating to my father's passing. One of my favorite sayings is: "You just gotta do it one time, then you are an expert." Well, that's how I feel about my journey over the past month...And my journey continues. However, blogging now fits into my journey. Thanks for your understanding while I've been on my detour. Much love! Elizabeth

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween at Southern California Theme Parks

Every Southern California theme park has Halloween activities. However, not all events are the right fit for each member of the family. Here is a guide to the top picks to help you plan your Halloween family fun.

HALLOWEEN TIME: From Sept. 17 through Oct. 31, families will celebrate Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort as they interact with some of Disney’s most beloved characters decked out in seasonal costumes. Some of Disney’s more sinister characters – the Disney villains – also get into the “spirit” of the celebration at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks. Guests will also enjoy Haunted Mansion Holiday and a scary adventure at Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Mickey’s Halloween Party, a special ticketed event, will run for 10 nights including October 31. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland) Halloween Time at Disneyland

Disneyland is all dressed up for Halloween! Space Mountain has turned into “Space Mountain – Ghost Galaxy” and The Haunted Mansion is all decked out a la “Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas”. Disney characters are dressed in Halloween costumes and the Disney Villains characters can also be found roaming the park this time of year.

Mickey’s Halloween Party, a separate ticket event at Disneyland, takes place on Tuesday (6pm) and Friday (7pm) evenings during October as well as Halloween night. The extra bonus this year is that guests attending Mickey’s Halloween Party are allowed to enter Disneyland three hours early to play in the park. Mickey’s Halloween Party is also the only way to see the “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular. Adults and children can dress in costume, trick-or-treat throughout the park, attend dance parties and take photos with characters in the special photo locations set up for the party. Tickets start at $49. For more information visit: Halloween at Disneyland


 Knott’s Scary FarmCostumepartygroup

Knott’s Berry Farm is transformed for the season into The Halloween Haunt at Knott’s Scary Farm Wednesday through Sunday nights in October. Featuring 13 mazes, 7 hair-raising shows, 3 horrific scare zones and 1,000 roaming monsters, this year is scarier than ever. The doors open at 7pm and close at 1am (2am on Fridays and Saturdays) for this separate ticket event. Knott’s Pre-Scare “Boo-ffet” Dinner, $20.99, allows event ticket holders early entry into The Haunt. Knott’s Halloween Haunt is a scary event and not recommended for children under 13. Guests are not allowed to wear costumes so as not to be confused with The Haunt characters. Tickets start at $33. For more information visit: Knotts Scary Farm

For the younger kids, Snoopy’s Costume Party in Camp Snoopy is an alternative daytime non-scare celebration of Halloween cheer rather than fear. Offered on weekends in October, 10am-5pm and included with regular park admission. This special, family event includes friendly monsters, a kid-friendly maze, crafts, and trick-or-treat stations.

zombie2-7x5 Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Studios Hollywood is offering its Halloween Horror Nights on consecutive weekends and select weeknights in October. This separate ticket event begins at 7pm and is not recommended for children under 13. Horror Nights capitalizes on Universal’s movie franchises by combining the themes and characters into mazes, scare zones and the “Terror Tram” attraction. How about a stroll through the Friday the 13th maze with Jason followed by working your way through A Nightmare on Elm Street maze with Freddy Krueger? All Universal attractions are open during Horror Nights. Costumes are not allowed. Tickets start at $44. For more information visit: Universal Horror Nights


 Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLANDCASH101Halloween

Every Saturday in October from 5-9pm, LEGOLAND California is transformed into a not-too-spooky Halloween haven for Brick-or-Treat Party Nights featuring costume contests, dance contests, a pumpkin patch building event, “howler of the hour” contests, nighttime trick-or-treating on one of two Brick-or-Treat Trails, live music and entertainment.

During the day every Saturday and Sunday in October revelers 12 and under trick-or-treat on the Park’s exclusive Brick-or-Treat Trail, where they gather goodies including delicious treats, trading cards and other surprises. Guests can also enjoy the new musical “Mail Order Monsters” and pose with a giant LEGO® jack-o-lantern. All Brick-or-Treat and Party Nights festivities are included in the price of regular one-day admission to LEGOLAND California.  Special tickets for Brick-or-Treat Party Nights only are available for $30. During Brick-or-Treat, LEGOLAND is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information visit: Legoland

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It’s Blogger Prom!

BloggerProm I’m off to Blogger Prom tonight at Yamashiro in Hollywood!  I’m attending with none other than The Hollywood Housewife and we are putting the final touches on our outfits as we type.  The theme is Hollywood Glamour…I think I’m sort of aiming for a Lauren Bacall circa Humphrey Bogart…Sorta kinda, as if I could pull that off.  The Blogger Prom is a charity event and I’ve stolen the following from the Blogger Prom site regarding this year’s charity: The Blogger Prom Committee is pleased to announce that 100% of the proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the Center for Community and Family Services in support of Operation Frontline Los Angeles, the regional OFL program at Share Our Strength "that teaches families how to prepare healthy, tasty meals on a limited budget" with the belief "that negative health and economic effects of hunger and poor diet can be avoided if families know how to shop for and prepare healthy, low cost meals."  Pretty awesome and worthy cause!  I never did get to go to my high school proms in a limo.  Keeping the tradition into this century, I’ll be going to this one in my minivan.  How amusing that all these years and so many limos—yes, I’ve been in a lot of limos since high school—I’d rather drive myself.  Ok, I’m off like a prom dress! ;)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

logo-cbsla5 You can now find me blogging over on the CBS Los Angeles site,, that launched on September 1st.  I’m really honored to have been invited to join a team of talented parent bloggers from all over the Los Angeles area who will be bringing readers the Best of LA geared for families.  My first four posts are up covering: The Best Fun for Kids in The South Bay, The Best Fun for Kids in Long Beach, The Best Back to School Tips for LA Parents and a review of the arena spectacular, Walking with The Dinosaurs.  The CBS Los Angeles site is home to KCBS-ch.2, KCAL-ch.9, KNX AM1070 and KFWB AM980 and there is lots of great local info as well as weather, traffic, sports and news.  I look forward to this new opportunity and to sharing the best of LA with everyone.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Walking With Dinosaurs – Last Chances!

Steg I’m really excited that tomorrow I’ll be heading to The Honda Center in Anaheim to see one of the final performances of WALKING WITH DINOSAURS.  The original company of WALKING WITH DINOSAURS – The Arena Spectacular, which has toured North America since July 2007, will play its final engagements at The Honda Center in Anaheim, CA September 1-5, followed by performances at The STAPLES Center in downtown Los Angeles, September 9-12.  The show originally played the Los Angeles area in 2008 with an unprecedented sold-out run at both venues.  WALKING WITH DINOSAURS – The Arena Spectacular is based on the award-winning BBC Television Series.  In this production, seventeen roaring, snarling “live” dinosaurs mesmerize the audience as if they were back in the time when dinosaurs walked the earth. The dinosaurs are life-size, making the show so immense, it could only fit in arenas.  The “live” dinosaurs are actually a brilliant combination of technology and traditional theater arts like lighting, acting, scenery and puppetry.  The show is so enormous that they travel around North America in 25 trucks and production cost is $20 million.

In WALKING WITH DINOSAURS, ten species are represented from the 200 million year reign of the dinosaurs.  Wow, 200 million years?  How do I explain that concept to Chip when I CAN HARDLY grasp it?  Anyway, I’m personally thrilled to see that the Stegosaurus, my favorite dinosaur, is in the show’s cast.  The show depicts the dinosaurs’ evolution which includes the climatic and tectonic changes that lead to the demise of many of the species.  It also shows how the carnivores and herbivores behaved.  The history of the world is played out with the splitting of the earth’s continents, and the transition from the arid desert of the Triassic period is given over to the lush green prairies and forces of the later Jurassic.  Oceans form, volcanoes erupt, a forest catches fire -- all leading to the impact of the massive comet, which struck the earth, and forced the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Apparently, all with a 35 minute first act, 20 minute intermission and a 35 minute second act!  I think I’m looking forward to it more than the kids?!

Review: I attended opening night with my 4 year old son, 5 year old boy/girl twin neighbors and their mom.  We were all enthralled by the show which is narrated by a rugged paleontologist who guides the audience through the 200 million year story.  Some young children may be frightened by the full sized, “real” dinosaurs.  Video is on the show’s site and it is recommended showing that to kids to get an idea of how they might feel at the show.  Our 3 kids were really into the show and asked lots of questions.  There are a few loud dinosaur roars that were tough on the toddler ears.  If you can afford it, the price of sitting closer to the dinosaurs is well worth it.  All seats are good and it may be wise to sit further back if little ones would be more comfortable away from a full grown, roaring T-Rex.  Overall, this is a show I highly recommend as being really fun for the whole family.  I wasn't feeling antsy or checking my watch, like I do at some of the "kiddie shows."  When the Stegosaurus came out during the Jurassic Period, it was like seeing Yo Gabba Gabba for me!  I leaned over to the kids and made sure they knew that was my favorite.  Who doesn't like dinosaurs?  Hot tip: Goldstar has half-priced tickets currently available on their site for The Staples Center shows.

WalkDino Tickets are now on sale.  Honda Center tickets ($22.50-79.00) can be purchased at the Honda Center Box Office and at any Ticketmaster outlet, charge by phone 1-800-745-3000 or online at  Tickets for STAPLES Center ($39-79.00) can be purchased at the STAPLES Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, charge by phone 213-480-3232 or online at For groups, contact the local arena directly.  For more information, please visit Video of the show is available on the site under “Meet The Dinos” tab in the middle of the front page.

Disclosure: I was given tickets to the show for review purposes and complimentary parking in the media lot.  No compensation was received.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Variety Power of Women


I am honored to have been chosen by Honda along with ten other amazing bloggers from all over the country to attend the Variety Power of Women Event in Beverly Hills on September, 30.  The funny thing is I live really close to Beverly Hills, so I guess I’m the ideal, all expenses paid, winner!  Variety has invited two of the bloggers to be Red Carpet Correspondents at the event to be chosen via a contest.  All eleven of us wrote what the Power of Women means to us and our essays are posted on Honda’s Facebook page.  The two bloggers whose essays receive the most votes will get to be the Red Carpet Correspondents.  Here is my essay and if you would like to vote for me, just go to the Honda contest page and click “vote”.  That’s it!  The voting period ends Thursday, August 26, 8:59pm PDT.  Thank you!

To me, “Power of Women” means harnessing the greatness of all the women who have gone before us, who have paved the way for us, the women of 2010. I’m not just referring to famous historic women. I mean all women: our mothers, grandmothers and their mothers and sisters. For every girl over the centuries who dreamed of creating something, there was at least one older female who supported her. Women supporting women, networking, mentoring and encouraging women and girls from all backgrounds to pursue their dreams and make a difference in their communities is a key element of today’s Power of Women. As I look back over the story of my life, I can think of so many women, some who only played walk-on roles, but who inspired, influenced or continue to echo through me. I just know that we can continue the momentum for the women yet to come.

Elizabeth Peterson

Monday, July 26, 2010

simplehuman Steel Frame Dishrack

L_KT1108 Don’t laugh.  You’d love this dishrack, too.  How long had I dealt with dishracks that basically got icky: rusty, moldy, messed up the counter, or just plain old gross?  Last year I attended a blogger tea hosted by simplehuman, a company that has products I was already using.  This past December, I reviewed their Tension Shower Caddy which I continue to love and still looks brand new.  simplehuman is already on my “companies with awesome stuff” list, so I was hopeful their line of dishracks would hold the answer to my prayers.  The simplehuman team was so kind to send me their Steel Frame Dishrack, $69.99, which is the largest of their dishracks.  I realize $70 may strike you as a lot to pay for a dishrack.  But, considering it’s something that you use daily and for most of us, several times a day, it makes sense to invest in a good one.  This one has everything covered, the stainless steel is fingerprint proof, the drip tray is extendable for when you have glasses hanging on the flip-out cup holders, the plate holder area allows you to customize with flip-up tines, the utensil holder has a bamboo knife block, the drain spout pivots so you can aim it to your sink.  The whole dishrack is customizable for either side of your sink, if you want to have it long or short alongside the sink and if you need to raise it for an overmount sink.  The whole thing comes apart easily so you can clean it all with soapy water or wash it in the top rack of your dishwasher.  No nasty crevices for icky stuff to get trapped!  How brilliant?  All this and it comes with a 5-year warranty. 


The main concept, I read is that you can leave it on your counter and have it still look nice in your kitchen because it hides dishes while drying.  I can see that working for people who KEEP UP with putting their dishes away.  I can.  I appreciate that if I could attain that and stay on top of that, I would have that look.  I personally appreciate that I can get backed up and still load it up and it lets me get away with it.  With the toddlers, I have a lot of stuff that I can’t put in the dishwasher, so I really use my dishrack a lot.  As you can see from my picture.  My hip 20-something babysitter even commented on how great the dishrack is the other day.  Yes, dear readers, we have a keeper.  Available at, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Sur La Table.

South Coast Plaza = Mall Heaven

Not to dwell on the past, but to understand me a little better, it is worth telling you a little bit about my youth.  Growing up, the mall closest to my house was referred to as “the worst mall”.  Full of stores that had no relevance to me or my friends.  I would go there and wonder how I could be so unlucky.  Ironically, the mall located closest to my beach house was, if possible, an even worse mall.  That mall had wall to wall carpeting.  Need. I.  Say.  More?  I dreamed of growing up and living near a really great mall.  Ok, I realize I sound shallow and snobby.  Realize that: 1) this was me, as a kid, thinking these things, 2) of course I had other goals and 3) this is my blog and I can say whatever I want.

When I walk into South Coast Plaza I want to throw my arms in the air, twirl around and then lie on the marble floor and make snow angels.  Oh, my, mall!  How is it possible so much fabulous retail exists in one walkable locale?  I was really lucky to attend South Coast Plaza’s recent Blogger Event along with a number of LA and Orange County fashion and travel bloggers.  Our schedule kicked off in the VIP ACCESS Suite, located in the Saks Fifth Avenue wing on level 2.  VIP members receive free valet parking and membership in the suite which provides guests with a place to relax, store purchases and enjoy refreshments.  The suite also has a Zen Room and a Sports Lounge and is attended by a concierge who will handle personal requests including dining reservations and event tickets.  When I was in here I couldn’t help but think that certain people who get dragged to go shopping would love hanging out in the VIP ACCESS Suite whilst the other members of their party shopped!  We were briefed on our agenda, given our lovely canvas gift bags and {{{woosh}}} the fashionistas in the group swept me up and out the door towards our first stop, the Tumi Boutique.

As a multi-lingual, globetrotter, having lived in a few different countries, I have been on a search for the perfect piece of luggage since I got my first passport at age 5.  I suspect I’ll always be looking but I must say Tumi certainly sets the standard for innovation, creativity and understanding the needs of the modern traveler.  The staff at Tumi demonstrated packing techniques (see video) showing us how to use some of their packing accessories including the packing cubes and flat folding packs for optimum efficiency.  All the bloggers were thrilled when we found out Tumi was giving each of us a Just In Case Tote which is the perfect bag that zips up into its own pouch and turns into a sturdy, handy tote bag when you find out you “over-shopped” or were “over-swagged” and need an extra bag for the trip back home.  Tumi gets major stars for a really useful blogger gift!

Next stop was Spa Nordstrom Escape for a Blogger Bronzing Session using St. Tropez air-brush spray tanning process.  We had our faces done and I was really impressed with how quickly the results appeared and how natural it looked.  The tan lasts for several days and can be maintained for weeks with at home application of the St. Tropez products.  The spa offers a menu of services and is a really nice offering that I had no idea existed at Nordstroms.  The staff is really warm and friendly and gave us tours of the treatment rooms.  I noted that they have showering facilities which is a nice amenity to have available for clients.  All tanned and refreshed, but, sadly, no time to shop for shoes…We did a fashionista march to our next destination: Henri Bendel.

I can’t say it any better than describes themselves: “Henri Bendel is a girls’ playground, where Bendel girls go to find the new and the next in accessories, cosmetics and gifts.”  You know how you felt when you were about 8 and walked into a candy store?  Ok, now you get it.  The other thing is that things there can be splurge-y, yet at the same time, incredibly practical.  Plus the price points allow absolutely anyone to have something from Henri Bendel.  I personally was digging the “Disturbed Stripe” Collection, especially the The Disturbed Stripe Beach Towel.  I want that towel.  Will someone please give me one?  I’m not picky, but if you are asking, I’d like the one with the red trim.  Thanks.  The Travel Candle Collection is coming back by popular demand at the end of this month.  Available in stores and online, in scents like Lemon Verbena, Peony and Vanilla Bean and only $15, it’s a nice way to bring a travel friendly candle on your summer vacation.  I could have spent hours in Henri Bendel, but we needed to continue our mall crawl.

Next stop: Intimacy, bra fit stylists.  The newly opened boutique is part of a chain of “life changing” stores that help women find the right bra, show them how to care of their bra and often transform them physically and mentally.  I don’t know the exact statistic, but I’ve heard that something like more than half of all women wear the wrong size bra.  At Intimacy, the associates are highly trained in their product lines, made up mostly of European brands and work to figure out what your lifestyle and wardrobe needs are.  Then figure out what bras are right for you.  Pretty cool.  They also have sports bras, tanks with built-bras, all kinds of bra accessories and laundry care products.  Quite a brilliant concept to find exactly the right bra.

My blogger pal, Rockin’ Mama and I made a quick stop into Molten Brown, the British based chain that carries personal care products like soap, shampoos and body washes as well as candles and room sprays.  They gave us a cute little sample pack of body lotion, bath and shower gel and liquid handwash.  With names like Coco de Mer, Wilde Fairyfleur and Naran Ji, you really have to visit to revel in the cocktail scents the Molten Brown geniuses have created.  On a funny note, I asked the staff where they had other stores and they said only in New York.  A few days later, I was in New York for the Kelly Ripa Ovarian Cancer Benefit Event and found a Molten Brown a block from my hotel.  I ducked in for a quick purchase.  I’m not a huge fan of heavy perfumes, but I do love shower gels.  Molten Brown scents are perfectly scented and yummy!

All the bloggers met up at AnQi by Crustacean, the restaurant owned by the An family of the famous Crustacean restaurant in Beverly Hills, of which I am a fan.  We sipped cocktails and had a delicious special menu that was prepared for us.  Then the restaurant lights dimmed and the catwalk lights brightened and the La Perla Summer Fashion Show began.  La Perla is best known for lingerie, but they do have a line of bathing suits and cover ups.  It was lovely to have Elizabeth An, third-generation of The House of An, stop by our table for a chat.  I knew about the “secret kitchen” in Crustacean and asked if there was one at AnQi.  She confirmed that they did indeed have on there as well.  It was so nice of AnQi to give all the bloggers gift certificates to return to AnQi for another visit.  I can’t wait to take Surfer Guy.

Well, what a day we had at the best mall ever possibly imagined.  South Coast Plaza is a destination mall…People travel from all over the world to shop there.  I’m so lucky I’m just a quick minivan jaunt away from a childhood dream realized: a really great mall.  For my readers who aren’t as lucky as I am, there are some hotel packages being offered this summer in partnership with South Coast Plaza: The Montage Laguna Beach is offering the Shopping Spree Special and The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel has the Pack Your Bags Shopping Package.  For full details on South Coast Plaza, visit  I’d like to thank South Coast Plaza for inviting me to this excellent event and for the lovely “South Coast Plaza Loves Bloggers” gift bag I was given.  I love South Coast Plaza back!

Photo Credits: Caryn Bailey of Rockin’ Mama and Crush Studios

Monday, July 19, 2010

I’m a BlogLuxe Awards Finalist!

blogluxe-finalist-button-250x250 First of all, it is an honor just to be nominated. But then to receive enough votes to put me in the top five vote getters in the category “Blogs We Learned The Most From”?  Well, I’m humbled.  It’s often a lonely blogger existence, late in the night, just me, my computer and an occasional opossum wandering by the window.  To whomever nominated me: thank you!  To everyone who voted: Thank you!  I hope I helped a bit, changed it up some and had something for everyone.  The e-mail informing me that I am a finalist began: Congratulations! Based on reader votes, you are a finalist for the 2010 BlogLuxe Awards!  Thank you for writing such organized/amazing/beautiful/hilarious/inspiring/fun/over the edge/tasty/downright awesome blogs!  Two winners from each category chosen by our VIP "Academy" will be announced at the Avery SocialLuxe Lounge in New York City on August 5, 2010. The Avery SocialLuxe Lounge takes place the night before BlogHer 2010 the big annual blogging conference that is being held this year in New York City.  I wonder if winners have to make speeches?  I’d like to thank the academy, my first writing teacher Mrs. Mayo, my…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Do Good Day

200x200_ver2 Today I teamed up with six other Los Angeles area mom bloggers on the first ever “Do Good Day” sponsored by 77kids by American Eagle and The Motherhood.  Do Good Day was held today in 11 cities across the country each with 7 mom bloggers and their children (thus the 77 and their kids, cool, eh?) did various community service projects and pay it forward acts of goodness in their communities.  Our team, made up of Aracely, Caryn, Ciaran, Linda, Liz, Stephanie, several of our kids and myself set up at Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach which is a popular beach destination for parents and their young kids.  Our Do Good Day project was having kids make Get Well cards for kids at The Children’s Hospital of Orange County.  We had four big tables set up with colorful cards, envelopes, ink stamps, stickers, crayons, markers and pens.  Kids of all ages were able to make a card for another kid and have a blast doing it.

When the kids finished their cards, they “posted” them into a basket and received a $1 bill from 77kids along with a list of 7 good things to do with a dollar and on the other side of the paper was a list of good deeds to do for free.  It was really nice to see almost every kid listen as we explained what was being handed to them even though they were supposed to be off having a fun beach day.  Then, the kids were given rewards for participating in Do Good Day.  We on the LA team were thrilled to have two fabulous sponsors join forces with us on Do Good Day: Ruby’s Diner, a chain with a location right in Seaside Lagoon, give each child who made a Get Well card a kid’s milk shake as well as a coupon for a free kid’s meal.  Cold Stone Creamery, the chain of ice cream shops, donated $5 gift cards that were given to each child who made a Get Well card.  What a fabulously fun and successful day we had!  I love it when everything comes together and just works.  Especially when it means doing good and keeping the good moving on.  Here is a link to the news story of our event in The Daily Breeze newspaper.  To find out what happened on Do Good Day in the other 10 cities, check out The Motherhood Do Good Day Circle.

Disclosure: I am being compensated by 77kids by American Eagle and The Motherhood for my participation in Do Good Day.  I am not being compensated for this post.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Childproofing My Toyota Sienna

When Kimberlee Mitchell, Child Safety Expert & Professional Childproofer, came with the Safety 1st Squad to childproof my house, she also childproofed my minivan.  We shot a quick video to go with this post to get you started thinking about keeping your family safe on the road.  I think it’s amazing that there is so much that we don’t realize when it comes to safety and preventing injuries in our family cars.  Here are some of Kimberlee’s key tips: eliminate projectiles, ensure you have your car seats properly installed, make sure you have the right car seat for your child, do not use your cell phone while driving, use techniques to prevent forgetting your baby in the car, hide your keys from kids.  For complete information please read Kimberlee’s blog post Childproofing the Car.

I have a big interest in car seats and consider myself to be really knowledgeable about them and about installation.  Here is a link to a blog post about a AAA/Dorel Juvenile Group survey (Dorel is the parent company of Safety 1st) that shows most parents don’t know the height and age requirements for car seats.  Further, and most alarmingly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75% of car seats are not properly installed!  I learned how to install a car seat properly before Chip was born by meeting with a car seat tech who went over the specifics with me.  I’ve since taken advantage of any opportunity to speak with a police officer at a child safety event and opportunities like working with Kimberlee and Safety 1st.  Believe me, if I can learn how to install a car seat correctly, anyone can.  Kimberlee has a blog post, Car Seat Confusion: Which direction? Which location? When do they outgrow it?  Her post also includes a tv segment she shot on San Diego Living showing the proper installation of car seats in a Toyota Sienna.  She shows us some some good tips, including using a pool noodle to get a good install.  Now buckle up and be safe!